Our joint blogging event this Christmas has the theme of matching perfumes to festive songs. It didn’t take me long to decide to write about my favourite carol, In The Bleak Midwinter.
I grant you, it’s not the most upbeat piece of music you’ll hear during the holiday season, but I love it because it’s so atmospheric. It gives me goose bumps and makes me feel that at this time of year, anything is possible.
I recently discovered that the lyrics for In The Bleak Midwinter actually came from a poem written by the English poet Christina Rossetti in the 1800s and were first put to music, after her death, in 1906.
1. In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
2. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.
4. What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
Of course this is a Christian carol but for me its broader message is that in the midst of despair, there is still hope. Never believe that your present state of desolation will last forever. As the proverb says “The darkest hour is just before the dawn”. This is how I feel about In The Bleak Midwinter…
I am standing still, lost in the midst of an immense, dark forest in the depths of winter. Night is approaching and the cold wind chills my bones. The tall trees seem to loom over me threateningly and the distant sound of howling adds to the feeling of foreboding in my gut. The intense scent of pine fills my nose and the metallic taste of fear coats my tongue. I know that I’ll never find my way out.
Then in the next moment, the temperature rises slightly and there is a long forgotten scent in the air which triggers a sense of anticipation. Snow starts to fall, quickly settling on the ground and decorating the trees. Snow on snow, snow on snow. The beauty of it lifts my spirits and the scene gradually shifts from sinister to magical.
Once again I’m filled with the wonder I felt as a child at the first sight of snow. I start to relax. As I calmly look around, I see a small beacon of light I hadn’t noticed before, in between the branches. I head towards it, knowing with new found confidence that home isn’t as far away as I thought.
The perfume I have chosen to represent In The Bleak Midwinter – and the scene and feelings it brings up for me – is Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne.
At first I found this much admired fragrance unnerving. I couldn’t get past its poisonous note of black hemlock. As time went by I began to really appreciate the rich scent of pine cones, tree sap and green undergrowth.
Then after reading Lavanya’s review on Purple Paper Planes I started to notice a spun sugar note that I’d never registered before. The more I focused on it the more it came to the fore and the black hemlock receded into the background. So Ormonde Woman has transformed itself from an eerie scent to a comfort scent, all because of a change in my perception.
You see? Miracles can happen.
Please be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this joint event.