Thursday, February 02, 2017

Oriza L. Legrand- Rêve d'Ossian

In this still place, remote from men,

Sleeps Ossian, in the Narrow Glen;

In this still place, where murmurs on
But one meek streamlet, only one:
He sang of battles, and the breath
Of stormy war, and violent death;
And should, methinks, when all was past,
Have rightfully be laid at last
Where rocks were rudely heap'd, and rent
As by a spirit turbulent;
Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild,
And everything unreconciled;
In some complaining dim retreat,
For fear and melancholy meet;
But this is calm; there cannot be
A more entire tranquility.
William Wordsworth, 1803 

"Ossian Poems" was a  reworked collection of ancient Gaelic folktales published in 1760 and attributed to a mythological Irish bard, but in fact written mostly by Scottish poet James Macpherson (1736-1796). Authenticity aside, these poems influenced many writers and painters throughout the centuries. The opening verse above from Wordsorth's Glen Almain; Or, the Narrow Glen (part of his Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1803) is a great example with the visual and sensory picture it creates. Fast forward to 1905 when classic perfume house (back then there were actual "houses" and not just "brands") Oriza L. Legrand created a fragrance named Rêve d'Ossian (Ossian's dream). Was it an olfactive imagining of ancient Celtic wars? An ode to wood sprites, the wise men who worshipped them? The deep forest of bygone eras? I have no idea. I've never smelled the turn of the 20th century perfume that was accompanied by this advertisement:

The 2012 reboot of Oriza L. Legrand as a brand makes me think of James McPherson and the literary licence (or forgery) he took with the Ossian's tales. I doubt that this modern green, and coniferous incense came from the original archives.  Still, I cannot help but enjoy it for what it is.  I love my incense burnt to embers as well as white and clean as it is in the case of new Rêve d'Ossian. It's a lovely mix of fresh evergreens, the coldest soapiest incense that evokes an early winter morning on its crystalline air and plumes of smoke. And some spice.

The cold incense is somewhat related to Heeley's Cardinal, so I'm guessing there's a churchy incense reference. My first thought, however, was of a friendlier Cardinal with some sense of humor. The ghost of warmth and spice keep Rêve d'Ossian from being too austere (if that's what you're after pick a bottle of Tauer's Incense Extreme). It's very wearable, and as I've been using up a couple of samples I had around and catching leftover whiffs from cashmere cardigans and scarves I started thinking it would also make a wonderful candle. Guess what? A quick search has revealed that such a thing exists. I know what I'm buying next at Twisted Lily.

Oriza L. Legrand- Rêve d'Ossian ($165, 100 ml eau de parfum) is available at Luckyscent and Twisted Lily. The candle , which I haven't smelled yet, seems to only be stocked at Twisted Lily ($54, 130gr).

Top image: cover of The Poems of Ossian,  Imray´s Edition, 1799.

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