A Poem by Emma Bell Miles on Her Birthday

October 19, 1879Emma Bell Miles was born; American short story writer, poet, and artist; published The Spirit of the Mountains in 1905, which contained stories, travels narratives, memoir, and cultural analysis of Southern Appalachia. A section of her book on Appalachian music, which first appeared as an article in Harper’s Monthly in 1904, is probably the first on the subject printed in a popular magazine. Her journals have also appeared in print.

To read the poem “Music and Fire” by Emma Bell Miles click:



Music and Fire

by Emma Bell Miles

The night is long, the day was short.
The black frost locks our world;
Against our cabin’s lowly roof
The wind’s keen hate is hurled.
The stark pines’ harp-string hum resounds
Through all the glittering night;
But here the fiddle’s song is higher,
And louder roars our hickory fire,
And brighter gleams its light.

What though our bread is coarse and scant,
Or bare and rude our walls?
Look where on smoky log or chink
The scarlet splendor falls.
Hark to the banjo’s merry din!
So must our souls be fed:
For we, however poor, can yet
The hungry winter’s woes forget,
For music barter bread.


“Music and Fire” from Strains from a Dulcimore, by Emma Bell Miles, published in 1930 by The Bozart Press

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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