Snowflakes (Clara Belle Baker, 1921)

This week we had ‘Blue Monday’ (the most depressing day of the year, apparently).

In the spirit of punching through procrastination, I’ve started to work my way back into singing (gently).

As luck would have it, I stumbled on a site that hosts a library of sheet music offering a wide range of folk songs.

Folk songs are a true tonic when you need to practice. Ideal for melody, harmony and breathing exercises. Perfect for me as I work with post-covid challenges.

This week, I gave it my best attempt in front of the mic and arranged and recorded an acapella folk song called ‘Snowflakes’.

The song was written in 1921 by Clara Belle Baker (arr. by B. Thompson), an American educator who was an early advocate of having children learn by doing.

It has a sweet, simple melody that dances like the snowy flakes we’ve been fortunate to enjoy recently.

This was my first time recording myself (at home) without Thilo Pfander! I used Garage Band and paired it with footage of pretty snowberries, which I stopped to admire on my wintery walk with Ted.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Cropped detail of The Brontë Sisters by Patrick Branwell Brontë restored. Emily Brontë, by Patrick Branwell Brontë, from a portrait with her sisters. Public domain (USA).

I never tire of this glorious winter-inspired poem by Emily Brontë. Her haunting, vivid imagery and use of language convey not only a spellbinding winter scene — but an ominous sense of impending doom.

We can all relate, no?

Emily Brontë  (1837)

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow.

And the storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.
Winter Tree Forest, Aleksandr Kichigin, Canva Pro

Using a dark, eerie tone, ‘a tyrant spell has bound me,’ Brontë describes an oh-so-familiar human trait. To feel stuck or immobilised by the fear of taking action.

I wonder if Brontë wrote her poem on Blue Monday?

There is a shadowy sense that the narrator is perhaps determinedly fending off a form of temptation with, ‘I will not, cannot go’.

Through simple, dramatic monologue, we feel the psychological weight of something looming, snowy boughs weighted down — a storm descending.

Brontë is best known for her imaginative novel Wuthering Heights, but she was undoubtedly an accomplished poet.

Whatever her inspiration, ‘Spellbound’ transcends time, beautifully depicting a wildness of emotion and landscape.

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As always, thanks for being here. I’m grateful for your support as I work with this new platform. I look forward to sharing more about my upcoming projects soon.

“If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results.”

Emily Brontë

What I’m up to this week

CREATING: the print for my upcoming Substack giveaway (next week).

WATCHING: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, directed by Edward Berger. It’s racking up award nominations and has received rave reviews (available on Netflix if interested).

LISTENING: The Tennis Podcast, new eps released daily covering the Australian Open with the perfect balance of drama and humour. Once again, Sir Andy Murray has proven himself a class above the rest with his grit, determination and huge heart.

For those keen to practice some art, on Sunday, I’ll share a new watercolour session that you can try at home — inspired by winter trees, obvs!

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