What is it about fire that holds our fascination? Last weekend the clocks went back and in the span of one night darkness began to lap at the edges of our late afternoons. The encroachment of night leading the tide of winter into our daytimes can no longer be ignored and it is understandable that at this time of year we are so drawn to the image of an open fire. In this episode, with the help of the poet Robert Service, we explore the ways that fire can touch us so deeply emotionally, reawakening old memories and feelings.
“5th November, Friday
A chill greyness has seeped into the landscape
That silvered dawns
And sunsets of fiery bronze
COP26 started this week.
Twitter and newsfeeds are not good places to be.
So I stand by the big oak
Listening for the raven’s call
And the windsong of geese.
Above me contrails flower the cobalt sky
And, at my feet,
A clover leaf
Laced with ice.
In this episode I read extracts from a number of poems by Robert W Service (1874-1958). These are:
There are a number of collections of his works. The one I have been using is Dan McGrew, Sam McGee and Other Great Service Poems published by Taylor (1987).
For more information about Service’s life and work, see: Robert W. Service.
For more information on research relating to the psychological and physiological effects of sitting by an open fire:
C.D. Lynn. (2014) ‘Hearth and Campfire Influences on Arterial Blood Pressure: Defraying the
Costs of the Social Brain through Fireside Relaxation’. Evolutionary Psychology 12(5). 983-1003.
In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at archive.org.
Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River Weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded to Freesound.org on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence.
Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.
All other audio recorded on site.
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