Music on Christmas Morning

Anne knew life couldn’t fail her as long as she acknowledged the blessings of animals and nature, music and prayer.
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton

Those who have read my two novels (A House Near Luccoli and To A Strange Somewhere Fled) know how integral music is to their language, stories, rhythm, sensibilities and characters. My third historical fiction, which is nearing completion, focuses on another area of the arts: writing. However, I couldn’t avoid, nor did I want to, the importance of music in the life of its main protagonist, Anne Brontë, youngest sister of Charlotte and Emily.

My vision for Without the Veil Between was to explore and expand the “asides” of Anne’s life in and out of the context of the more familiar Brontë narrative: one being her love of music.

At an early age, along with her siblings, she was taken by her father to concerts performed by the Haworth Operatic Society and in nearby Keighley. In the mid-1830s Reverend Brontë surprised his children by purchasing an upright cabinet piano made by John Green of Soho Square, London.

Piano in Patrick Bronte's study in Haworth Parsonage

Piano in Patrick Bronte’s study in Haworth Parsonage

Their father arranged for them to have a few lessons at the parsonage, but mostly they were self-taught. Emily, whom Anne was extremely close to, is said to have been the most accomplished pianist in the family. Charlotte’s friend (and to them all) Ellen Nussey wrote of Emily playing “with brilliance and precision.”

“Come on.” Emily dropped the shoes she had seemed so desperate to find and, not allowing Anne to put on hers, pulled her sister out of the rocking chair.
“What?”
“It’s time for Mendelsohn.”
“On the piano? It’s almost eleven.”
“Who’s to mind?”
With their father and Charlotte away, Emily couldn’t be stopped from opening the windows in almost every room and occupying herself on the cottage piano in the Reverend’s study any time she pleased. Yet Anne, who rarely went out of the house without Emily and then only into the front garden or the church to refresh the flowers by the pulpit, hadn’t heard Emily playing, not even the music Anne had given her for her birthday.
“You’ve been practicing. But when?”
“In the wee hours, as lightly as I walk about.”
“Oh. That explains—” Anne didn’t reveal her entire thought, standing to the side and holding the flickering light that illuminated the sheets Emily hardly needed to look at. She wondered how in the dark of a new day with a candle placed precariously on the corner of the piano’s lid, Emily managed to follow the score well enough to commit it to memory as well as perfecting by heart how gracefully and unpretentiously it sang without words. Anne heard it then as she had in her dreams, something of William in its wordlessness, something of herself in its longings, something almost tender about Emily that except in her constant forgiveness of Keeper might otherwise never be revealed.
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton
auldlang

Auld Lang Sang as copied by Anne Bronte

Anne also played, as Ellen Nussey claimed, preferring “soft melodies and vocal music. She sang a little; her voice was weak, but very sweet in tone.” As a governess, Anne gave music and singing lessons, purchasing much of the music herself. At home, in June 1843, on a brief holiday from her position at Thorpe Green, she began copying her favorite music into a blank notebook she had probably purchased on a visit to York with her employers, the Robinsons, spending a fairly substantial sum in relation to her earnings.

Anne was on the second page of filling the music manuscript book she had only counted on costing her three shillings and six pence, not the favorable opinion of her favorite sister. Her last trip to York, longer than when she and Branwell had met their father there and this time sanctioned for shopping, allowed Anne almost two hours away from the Misses Robinsons. While they spent their time and money on dresses, hats, and confections, Anne browsed a bookstore newly opened in the cathedral city, considering any expenditure carefully. She finally settled on two purchases: a German dictionary and a prettily-bound book for music copying that would also aid in her teaching, if only to Mary who showed an interest in and some talent for singing—more of a justification than reason for buying it. Anne wanted to make the music she loved compactly portable, even without access to a pianoforte available for performances—in her head, preferably so, for then her fingers were agile and her voice wasn’t weak.
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton
The Shambles, York

The Shambles, York

Anne’s brother, Branwell, also had musical ability and played the organ from time to time for services in the Haworth Parish church. Unfortunately, none of his talents, including writing and painting, could override his self-pitying, self-destructive personality, which spiraled him into deadly addictions to drink and drugs.

(William’s) arm around her brother’s shoulder assured Branwell that his return to the organ wasn’t spoiled by him losing his place in the processional hymn All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord and struggling with uncertain pedaling and clumsy fingering in Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.
“In the end, my friend, you found your way,” William’s cheeks were almost crimson, little streaks of sweat on them, “with Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal.”
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton
Haworth Church and Parsonage

Haworth Church and Parsonage

I try not to project myself into any historical person I write about, hoping to understand and interpret him/her as objectively and historically accurate as possible. However, fiction (and even biographies) beg some subjectivity in order to go deeper than the facts and explore, for example, his/her motivations, hesitations, impulses and emotions. Although I chose to write about Anne, I never expected to feel such affinity with her on so many levels (actually, the more I researched and wrote on this novel that, of course, has among its cast of characters Charlotte and Emily, the more I connected to each of the Brontë sisters, but that is a post for another time).

One of the ways I related to Anne was in how her creative talents affected her life as she developed as a writer. Writing became her work, her vocation:  she knew it was her most significant means of expression if not her easiest. It involved much of her time, and, also, her mental, emotional and even physical energy, didn’t come easy, was often frustrating and misunderstood. She had to do it, no matter the trials it put her through, and it seems there were times, especially in the composing of her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, that she was nearly buried in it.

As her sister Charlotte wrote in a letter: ‘I would fain hope that (Anne’s) health is a little stronger than it was – and her spirits a little better, but she leads much too sedentary a life, and is continually sitting stooping either over a book or over her desk – it is with difficulty one can prevail on her to take a walk or induce her to converse.’

In contrast music and art and Anne’s bond to nature were truly enjoyment, allowing her times when she could look up from her weighty sense of purpose and view a lighter, more leisurely way of being.

Anne Bronte’s unfinished portrait of her dog, Flossy

Anne Bronte’s unfinished portrait of her dog, Flossy

Certainly, in difficult times, such as her years as governess at Blake Hall and then Thorpe Green, including Branwell’s disastrous stint as tutor at the latter location, music was a relaxing and pleasant pastime that interrupted Anne’s struggles with her health, duties, and worry and embarrassment over her brother’s behavior.

Like at the Spa in Scarborough, during one of her summer holidays there with her employers, the Robinson’s …

Nothing was more calming to her lungs than sitting among other reverent music lovers—which Elizabeth and Lydia were not—in the Spa’s turreted Saloon, melting into a Mozart symphony, an air by Weber, and a Rossini overture, her spirit warmed even more than her body. At least, as the music swelled and soothed and satisfied, she was unaware of any physical discomfort from the afternoon’s rising temperature let alone her earlier asthma episode.
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton
The Spa, Scarborough, Yorkshire

The Spa, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Or on a sultry first day of rush-bearing, a magnificent Oratorio concert right in Haworth and her own church, St. Michaels and All Angels …

The voice of Mendelssohn’s Christ in three-part chorus rose, not only creating a miraculous sound but also a haloed light.
Anne wanted to be in that moment. Such bountiful music, the church filled with contemplative commentary drawn from the New and Old Testaments, chorales in the manner of Bach, fanfares punctuating more tranquil instrumentals and vocals. It was quite a trick for the orchestra, even reduced as it was, to fit in-between the altar and audience, the violins arranged around the cellos and violas, the strings in front of the winds, and the brass elevated at the very back. The choir was in front of the instrumentalists, sopranos and tenors on the right, mezzo sopranos, altos and bases on the left.
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton
Rushbearing 1821

Rush-bearing 1821

Or during an impulsive trip to London with Charlotte, which as unexpectedly found her at the opera in Covent Garden …

Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about critics or how you must answer them, or Papa or Emily or Branwell … or anything to disturb the wonder of this unexpected adventure
She didn’t think Mr. Williams, as he glanced at her, was reading her thoughts but, instead, wanted to witness her enthusiastic participation in the custom of applauding for the conductor as he quickly stepped into the pit, took his place and a bow, and turned to prompt the orchestra’s tuning up.
There was some movement behind the curtain, the footlights seeming to burn brighter as Anne’s attention focused on the stage. “This is beyond my dreams. Beyond what I deserve.” She lifted her hands to her cheeks, afraid they were flushed, as Mr. Williams might assume, with pleasure and embarrassment, but, as couldn’t be helped, really just the warmth and closeness of the theater.
“Oh, Miss Brontë, you’re more than worthy to be here.” Mr. Williams was prompted by Anne’s admission to make one of his own. “I think you’re a perfect companion for attending the opera, for I suspect you understand how music—”
“Kindly bids us wake. It calls us, with an angel’s voice, to wake, worship, and rejoice.”
Without the Veil Between © 2016 DM Denton
Italian Opera House Covent Garden, London

Italian Opera House Covent Garden, London

Which brings me to Anne’s Music on Christmas Morning, which was included in the poetry anthology she and her sisters published in the spring of 1846. It reflects Anne’s piety and love of music, words and nature, using all to paint a lyrically poignant bridge between heaven and earth.

music-of-christmas-morning-poem-with-holly-border-croped

 

Whether you read this post and Anne’s poem on the morning it was written in honor of, or at any other time, I want to offer my heartfelt appreciation for your visit to my little space in the universe along with wishes for many blessings to be yours in this season however you mark it.

Peace and Love

Please note that the excerpts I offered from my in progress Without the Veil Between, are from its first draft.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

My Gift to You: A Story of Sacrifice and Pure Intent

The Snow White Gift Scroll and image with text.jpg_pe Text and ornament highlighted FB Header sized 1

In the tradition of O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, The Snow White Gift is a short story published by All Things That Matter Press, set in 1930s Chicago, based on a childhood memory of my mother’s.

It can be read in an hour or so. Perhaps, you will consider it as a last minute gift for someone on your list … or even yourself when you might need a little escape and quiet time in the busyness of these days.

If you have Kindle Unlimited it is free to you!
Otherwise, it is only $.99

What better gift for the holidays and all year around than a charming story of an old-fashioned doll, a Nanny, a kindly aunt, and a little girl? Only the talented writing skills of author DM Denton could make this tale of hardship and disappointments during the Depression years into something that will touch the hearts of children and adults of all ages.
~
Review on amazon by Micki Peluso, author of And the Whippoorwill Sang

If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited, I would love to give you a copy!
If you would like to receive it
let me know in the comments below.

If you’ve read it already, your free copy could be given to someone else – a re-gifting I would fully endorse!

I hope, one way or other, you will take this opportunity to read this story for free … just bring your innocence and imagination and heart … and love for the little things that mean so much.

Read a sample here.

Come on! Why hesitate? There’s no obligation, except for you or someone you love to put up your/her/his feet for an hour or so and enjoy a little story that confirms love and patience can work magic.

As can the healing, wisdom, and playfulness of flowers!

A Friendship with Flowers 2016 Calendar is now available
from lulu.com for $12.99.

A Friendship with Flowers Calendar Cover-page0001 (2)_pe

 

Blessings to you and yours on the Winter Solstice

and

during this Holiday Season!

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

 

 

Angels Within

She lifted the little glass angel to its designated branch and stood back, her eyes losing it in the glow of the Christmas tree, her soul believing it was there.

At times

the angels within us sleep

only as the stars sleep

in the noonday sky

in the reality

that doesn’t know us

as our dreams do.

Angel Ornament2
 

Praying for non-violence to prevail
in the New Year and beyond.

Copyright 2012 DM Denton

 

Wishing you love, health and happiness
– many blessings –
for the holiday season
and 2015

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Dear Reader, Dreamer, Thinker and Aesthete

Had fun creating my first video to highlight my work!

Views at You Tube on a video help its rating and, therefore, search ranking. To make sure your view is counted (I saw differing opinions on whether a view on an embedded video was), I greatly appreciate you taking a few moments to go to the actual You Tube page for my video and watch it there. 

 Perhaps some gift ideas for the reader and art lover

on your holiday (or any time) list!

And don’t forget about giving to yourself.

Thank you!

Holly_pe

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

New! Kindle Edition of A Friendship with Flowers

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
~ Georgia O’Keeffe, American Artist (1887 – 1986)
Cover Front Only ImageIn February 2013 my Illustrated flower journal, A Friendship with Flowers, became available in print. The 58 color images made the selling price of it in paperback rather high. I must thank those who purchased it in print and hope that others will do so, especially as the holiday season is coming up. It could be a perfect gift for the flower lovers and gardeners on your giving list.

Now it is more affordable at $5.99

 in its

 Kindle edition

 

On Kindle Fire devices or using the downloadable app for your tablet, smartphone, or computer, the images are in color.

On basic and Paperwhite Kindle devices, the images are as beautifully detailed in black and white.

 A Friendship with Flowers Kindle Cover

Click here for a preview of it.

 

Reviews:

In A Friendship with Flowers, the gifted American author and artist Diane Denton invites us to share a healing journey she took when the flowers that surrounded her in a very English part of England gave her solace, hope and inspiration.

This beautifully produced book will not be left on a bookshelf for long; and as if the exquisite paintings (you’ll never look at a dandelion in the same way again) are not more than enough in themselves, the author also includes her unique commentary on the natural world as she studies and interacts with it while coming to terms with an unspecified experience in her life.

This combination of artwork and poetic observation, that is both personal and universal, creates a unique alchemy that calms and comforts while still leaving open the essential mystery of the natural world and our place in it. Sometimes, the author seems to suggest, it’s OK for there to be no answers; there may be no pat solutions, but there are insights and realisations, looking back to move forward (This holy rose/is another reminder/of the summer past/and yet/to come…), and new ways of seeing things (I found the snow didn’t drop/from above/but sprung from below/to cover the ground…).

The illustrations and the accompanying poetry, which is controlled, understated and pared back, combine to create a companion book that will reveal a little more each time you dip into it; you will feel (to borrow the author’s words): here’s a friend/I just got to know — /suddenly,/by the roadside,/as I was going/nowhere.

This book also includes a detailed glossary listing all the flowers shown in the beautiful illustrations throughout the book. This glossary includes the everyday and Latin name of each flower plus brief information about its habitat and the time of year that you’ll be able to spot it (easily recognisable in real life from the painstaking accuracy of the artist’s depiction). ~ Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books

 

In A Friendship with Flowers by D M Denton, very talented author, poet and artist, we are taken on a gentle meander through the Oxford countryside where she not only lived for several years but breathed, absorbed and became part of her beautiful surroundings. This gorgeous book contains the author’s own exquisite illustrations of a variety of flowers from hedgerow and garden, all accompanied by mellow poetic verses in her own inimitable style. Here is an example – of The Honeysuckle, the author writes: By the back door/the night comes in as sweet/as honey is to eat, like nectar/to the moths and bees/who suckle all they please;/while I can never get enough/of the scent/that can climb trees.
This is a book to treat yourself to or give to a loved one as a very special gift. It uplifts and delights at the turn of every page and is, without doubt, one to treasure. ~ Christine Moran, Journey into Poetry

 

A playful collection of thoughts about the names of flowers found in England, paired beautifully with the author’s delightful illustrations. My favorite, floxglove: “I am inclined to believe fairies hang up their thimbles when a sunny day is as right for dreams as a day-lit night makes idle hands.” ~ Barbara Rogers, By the Sea

May all your friends grace and heal you with

their beauty, wisdom, and playfulness!

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

‘Tis the Season

The snow has come early, silently covering leaves never raked but left to nourish or suffocate the ground on which the future stands.

Deeper and deeper, it’s all hidden for now.

This season for gathering is not crowded here in the quiet company of snow.

Looking back to the place called home, candles are lit to welcome without letting in. Although the passing of possibilities might, at least, enter dreams in the night.

Cardinal Painting Layered on Winter Scene Photo retouched resized

Photograph & Painting Copyrighted by DM Denton 2013

The light comes up and notices a Cardinal heart-red against the idea that winter is colorless – also challenged by berries clinging to the bareness of branches.

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

‘Tis the season for standing still. All growing needs a rest.

The rain is falling now, warm and then icy, washing away the cleanliness of snow, which is already missed. I hear it will return before too long.

Nature has decided some trees have stood long enough. They will be missed, but have been cleared away for a new outlook.

This is winter before it is Christmas. This is hope after it has given up.

Copyright Diane's Mom 2013

Copyright Diane’s Mom 2013

Wishing all

a warm and wonderous

Winter Solstice and Holiday season

however you celebrate and enjoy!

Repost: The Conscience of Christmas

Really hoped to come up withsome new, but with one thing and another, including a sick kitty – who is thankfully much better now – I will share this one again (written after the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy last year), which fits in with the spirit of sorrow and hope with the passing of Nelson Mandela. This post could just as well be titled “The Conscience of Anytime.” Peace.

The weather isn’t frightful
as the snow falls on cue,
just following its heart
that longs for innocence
in a world where it is
all too brief.
The cold creates a warmth of
knowing we must come in
from the harsh winds that blow
humanity to shame
and haunt its soul for right
to be done.
Angel Ornament2
The season cannot change what
happened to children who
did not doubt tomorrow
and to all those who did,
their smiles lost in tears
not in vain.
For as long as winter turns
from darkness to cast light
on a softer view through
the narrowing window
of how to make amends,
we must try.

Blessings of the season to all.
Prayers for non-violence to prevail
in the New Year and beyond.

Copyright 2012 DM Denton

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.