Cover image ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Follow The Raven
I’ve been thinking about including this song somewhere on the blog for quite a while. It’s based on a poem written by Seba Smith in 1843 and collected by Helen Hartness Flanders in the 1930’s. I came to know it when I discovered the writing and music of Robin McArthur and I never fail to be touched by the words. It seems to me to be a fitting piece to include here on the brink of Christmas as a tale of love and loss and ultimately survival in Wintertime.
It’s a true story about a woman called Lucy Blake and her daughter Rebecca who got lost on Stratton Mountain in Vermont during a snowstorm in 1821. Writer and musician Robin McArthur is also a native of Vermont and she and her husband Tyler Gibbons form the band ‘Red Heart the Ticker.’ They have recorded ‘Stratton Mountain Tragedy’ in their album ‘Your name in Secret I would Write’. In an article in the arts website ‘Gwarlingo‘, Robin tells how she sang this song at the Marlboro historical society and how people there contributed their knowledge of the story. One woman said that every Spring she visits the cemetery where Lucy Blake is buried and noticed there was a red rose on her grave. She later found out that Lucy Blake’s ancestor still lives in town and puts a rose on the grave every Mothers day. Extraordinary how history can be brought to life and made real again through story and song – words and music connecting people through time and across generations.
These are the words.
Stratton Mountain Tradgedy
Cold was the mountain’s height
Drear was the pasture wild
As through the darkness of the night
A mother wandered with her child
As through the drifting snow she pressed
The babe was sleeping ‘neath her breast.
Bitter blew the chilly winds
Darker hours of night came on
Deeper grew the drifting snow
Her limbs were chilled, her strength was gone
‘Oh God,’ she cried in accents wild
‘If I must perish, save my child’
She took the mantle from her breast
Bared her bosom to the storm
As round the babe she wrapped the vest
She smiled to think that it was warm
One cold kiss, one tear she shed
And sank into that snowy bed
A stranger passing by next day
Spied her ‘neath the snowy veil
The frost of death was in her eye
Her cheek was hard and cold and pale
He took the robe from off the child
The babe looked up and sweetly smiled.
Seba Smith ( 1792 – 1868 )
Click on this link below to hear the song.
I wish you all a happy and a peaceful Christmas and I’ll be back to you again sometime in January.