Tuesday, 5 February 2013

'Jack Frost takes every breath you breathe' .......

Illustration by Margaret Tarrant, from 'The Weather Fairies', 1st published by Medici in 1927

      Frost patterns - a wonder never fully explained - not to this fae's satisfaction anyway. And that's just how we magics like our wonders to be! I found these early on Sunday morning and while I examined them closely, keeping my fingers well away from the burning cold, a poem came to mind.  I remember it was read to me in the depths of January when I was simply a fae-sprig.

     Here too, dotted amongst the verses, is a little enchanted fairy art by some of Muddypond's favourite 'Golden Age' fairy illustrators. Beginning with the original illustration for the poem itself by Charles Robinson ......

Jack Frost
Gabriel Setoun
The door was shut, as doors should be,  
Before you went to bed last night;
Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see,  
And left your window silver white.

He must have waited till you slept;  
And not a single word he spoke,
But pencilled o’er the panes and crept
Away again before you woke.
Illustration 'Jack Frost'  from 'Arthur Rackham's Book of Pictures'. Pub: Heineman 1913
And now you cannot see the hills
Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane;
But there are fairer things than these  
His fingers traced on every pane.
Rocks and castles towering high;  
Hills and dales, and streams and fields;
And knights in armor riding by,  
With nodding plumes and shining shields.
Illustration by H J Ford from 'The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang 1894

And here are little boats, and there
Big ships with sails spread to the breeze;
And yonder, palm trees waving fair  
On islands set in silver seas,
And butterflies with gauzy wings;
And herds of cows and flocks of sheep;
And fruit and flowers and all the things  
You see when you are sound asleep.
Illustration by Oliver Herford - from 'Ladies Home Journal' 1926
For, creeping softly underneath  
The door when all the lights are out,
Jack Frost takes every breath you breathe,  
And knows the things you think about.
He paints them on the window-pane  
In fairy lines with frozen steam;
And when you wake you see again  
The lovely things you saw in dream.
Illustration by Helen Jacobs from 'Land of the Happy Hours' by Stella Mead. 1st pub. Nisbet 1946
The poem is from the book 'The Child World'  - a collection of poetry by Gabriel Setoun, illustrated by Charles Robinson and first published by Bodley Head 1896. 
Gabriel Setoun is the pen name of Scottish poet Thomas Nicoll Hepburn.

Another -

Jack Frost on the Window-pane

An artist came to our house by night,
Pinched were his features and hard his breath;
His garments were threadbare, his long beard white,
And his fingers were icy and cold as death.

A picture he drew when we crept to bed,
Of hills and forests and valleys and meres.
The sun looked admiringly on it – he fled,
And all that was left of his visit was tears.
from 'The Happy Story Book'  Platt & Munk Co. Author unknown 1918

Two pages from 'King Winter' illustrated by Gustav W.Seitz in 1859
If you enjoy a bit of Winter - or if you're looking forward to longer days and signs of Spring, there is a new page on Muddypond's main website - 'A Kentish Snowdrop Calendar'


Imogen said...

I enjoyed this and well remember the patterns Jack Frost made on the inside of my childhood windows - in more ways than one ... The scary illustration from The Yellow Fairy Book is especially wonderful, I think. Thank you for all of them, though!

Muddypond Green said...

Thankyou for your thoughts Imogen.
I wonder if most 'nowadays' children missing out on 'inside bedroom and bathroom' frost patterns is a good thing or a bad, and I can't decide.
H J Ford is one of the most amazing illustrators I think, and sadly, largely forgotten.

Imogen said...

Oh, I think it must be a good thing that we can banish Jack Frost from indoors nowadays! I wouldn't really want today's sprigs to have to live so uncomfortably. But I think they would lose something important if they never spent time outside in wintertime to really experience Jack's piercing fingers for themselves.