Behind the song - Anna Georgina
It was my mother, Mary Kitson Clark, who wrote the lyrics for Silver, back in the Decembers of 1937 and 1938. She was in her element walking in the hills and dales of Yorkshire, her home county – with her brother, friends, or on her own. Although the family lived in Meanwood, which was not far from the smoky black heart of Leeds itself, you could walk out of the house and find your way straight into the countryside. At the start of the song she describes a peaceful forest - colourful but still. In the second half she comes out from the shelter of the woods to face the wind and the cold and a landscape white with snow.
My mother was born in 1905 (into an engineering family), so when she wrote Silver she was in her early 30s. An archaeologist, she was excavating and finding funding for various digs on Roman sites in East Yorkshire and working also in the York Museum.
She had completed her degree in History at Cambridge in 1926 and followed it with a year’s course in Archaeology. She’d met my father while she was in Palestine on an all-woman dig on Mount Carmel in 1929, but they didn’t marry or even consider such a thing until 1942. In the late 1930s she already considered herself firmly on the shelf. She had to contend with hardness of hearing, a result of measles when she was three, all her life. However, her mental resources meant that although there were many things she couldn’t hear, she was never bored.
My mother loved reading and writing poetry and tried several times during her life to get her work published, but without success. Dafydd and I are very happy to be able to bring her verses before the public at last.
The sunlight glistens on the holly leaves,
The wood listens, the beck grieves.
Full of water, far below,
Otherwise silence where we go.
The rock is yellow, the bracken red,
And both gleam mellow where we tread.
Between two frosts no one denies,
The tender charm of winter skies
Yes you're in love an aureole of passion sets the world aglow,
But I'm content with what i know of happiness to feed my soul.
Look how the earth is bound with snow a leaden sky leans on the hill,
Headfirst into the wind i go but there's a fire at home i know
When this black cloud has snowed its fill,
See small and dark far walls and trees,
And clear in crystal distance chill,
A pale and glittering world lies still.