r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: 2015

Happy Hogmanay

Mairi Campbell

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile!
Happy New Year to you when it comes! :)

A Walk Through the Gaelic Alphabet

Walking through the same trees
though in a different language
wading in the long river running
of words
among the hawthorn, birch and alder
the same words
wych elm, bramble, ivy
gorse of the thousand swords
no new words.
On the hill slope
there is oak and ash, there is elder,
willow in the damp places
dwarf, goat, crack, white willow
trees that make the same words.
Then there is larch
and pine of the bare hill
ranked now in squares
words in a new order.

Each letter of the Gaelic alphabet is represented by a different species of tree.

Angus Dunn, from the High Country

a Christmas in Orkney

Merry Christmas


There is a god who tends
the empty corners of public places
the spaces where no one goes
the gaps between buildings
the lonely strip
where two roads meet
and no one stays.

Bless us in those empty spaces
where a young woman –
whose grandson is old now
and lives in Nova Scotia –
threw crumbs to the hens
and a young man
hauled seaweed to the lazy bed.

Bless us where their song
and that of their neighbours
can not be heard
though the wind still moves
through bog-cotton and rushes,
over the small face of the tormentil.

Bless us also in those places less well-known
where the location of a path is forgotten
a tool is no longer recognized by its use
names have gone and will not return.

Angus Dunn, from High Country

Silence the colour of snow

Silence the colour of snow,
settles against everything we love –
the late, startled flowers, the roadside stones -
all edges softened, all calamities blurred.

Why do you accuse me of never talking with you?
You know, they used to say that
if all the tongues in the world were stilled at once,
their common silence would translate itself

to a snow that even the summer winds
could never drive away. Hush now, not another word.
Look! High over the frozen manger,
my answer hangs and falls, that six fingered star.

John Glenday


Exile I am, for to the last, I carry in my
heart the oak groves of Derry with their
white angels from end to end that I have
seen but seldom since this wayward wing of the
house of high kings, that rendered not to
Caesar, was sent the swan’s way to be purged of
pride – far past my people’s
lands – lovely Islay of the geese that lies across the
kyle, and mild Kintyre that reaches always
out to mother Eire, all the Atlantic on to
Alba a glamour of green islands and
seas silver or blue, but pagan
places, so that the dove’s descent on Ararat had
not more joy in it than I had in my heart when
first I landed on the smooth white sands of
this my own Iona.
                               Eilean Idhe, holy island, this is
surely close to Heaven: green as a
shamrock, its very stones washed
long-since in the Saviour’s blood, it is an
axle-tree on which there turns a world of
water, light and space so pure that
men grow wings. My brothers in my own
time have followed flights of birds until they
found the far-flung Faroes, with other isles,
empty of souls, and carved the cross in
rock there to claim even these for Our Lord. We have
carried that cross to Pictish places and
saved pagan souls, making peace between
peoples, and here in high austerity our
scholars labour sweetly on the beauty of The Word.
Thus is my penance turned to high
purpose, for which I thank God.

Ian McFadyen, from Tom's Boat and Other Poems

on the library

it shone at night
it shone beautifully

it shone like the eddystone
it shone like the fire-cave
it shone like the old torpedo works
it shone like honeycomb spreadsheets
it shone like alchemy alley
it shone like aurora midnight mass
it shone like a plainchant surge
it shone like a troubadour fragment
it shone like test-site instruments
it shone like towerblock hypodermics
it shone like a harvest moon supper
it shone like famine eyes
it shone like harmonica railtrack
it shone like the tiger sonata
it shone like chandelier futures
it shone like the twilight home past
it shone like news from another star
it shone like the road to ruin
it shone like iron in the soul
it shone like an ampoule of angel dust
it shone like a fistful of martyr clippings
it shone like oranges in a net
it shone like torches in a deep dark forest
it shone like grandma's fireside
it shone like the wicked queen's smile
it shone like the necklace left in the laurel
it shone like the ring spilled in the reeds
it shone like a god's pursuit sandals
it shone like an autumn arboretum
it shone like the cherry pond spring
it shone like a thief's deep pockets
it shone like a jackdaw's escape velocity
it shone like a pirate's night-sweats
it shone like riot in lakeside towns
it shone like an islay lock-in
it shone like a boxful of butterflies
it shone like a web at the wood's edge
it shone like blazing hilltop victory
it shone like the valley of last resort
it shone like the story of you and me

it shone all night

Alasdair Paterson, from on the governing of empires


The first snow was sleet. It swirled heavily
Out of a cloud black enough to hold snow.
It was fine in the wind, but couldn't bear to touch
Anything solid. It died a pauper's death.

Now snow - it grins like a maniac in the moon.
It puts a glove on your face. It stops gaps.
It catches your eye and your breath. It settles down
Ponderously crushing trees with its airy ounces.

But today it was sleet, dissolving spiders on cheekbones,
Being melting spit on the glass, smudging the mind
Then humped itself by the fire, turning away
From the ill wind, the sky filthily weeping.

Norman MacCaig


He went directly and unhurried and scanned the smattering.

Wingbit snagskin throatlap furthew clawlid eyespit oarfire.
Oarfire? No, that’s just dreams talking. Pure dreamtalk.
But sinew and pinion, yes.
Scale and ferrule, yes.
Printflake. printflake. printflake.

And he simply upped them one by one
and cradled them eachwise in his hand,
and stroked them whole and hale.

And every single sundered heartbeat struck.

Jim Mainland, from The League of Notions

Latha Foghair

’S mi air an t-slios ud
latha foghair,
na sligean a’ sianail mum chluasan
agus sianar marbh ri mo ghualainn,
rag-mharbh – is reòthta mur b’ e ’n teas –
mar gum b’ ann a’ fuireach ri fios.

Nuair thàinig an sgriach
a-mach às a’ ghrèin,
à buille ’s bualadh do-fhaicsinn,
leum an lasair agus streap an ceathach
agus bhàrc e gacha rathad:
dalladh nan sùl, sgoltadh claistinn.

’S ’na dhèidh, an sianar marbh,
fad an latha;
am measg nan sligean san t-srannraich
anns a’ mhadainn,
agus a-rithist aig meadhan-latha
agus san fheasgar.

Ris a’ ghrèin ’s i cho coma,
cho geal cràiteach;
air a’ ghainmhich ’s i cho tìorail
socair bàidheil;
agus fo reultan Afraga,
’s iad leugach àlainn.

Ghabh aon Taghadh iadsan
’s cha d’ ghabh e mise,
gun fhaighneachd dhinn
cò b’ fheàrr no bu mhiosa:
ar leam, cho diabhlaidh coma
ris na sligean.

Sianar marbh rim o ghualainn
latha foghair.

Somhairle MacGill-Eain, from Caoir Gheal Leumraich / White Leaping Flame: Collected Poems (ed. by Christopher Whyte and Emma Dymock)

An Autumn Day

On that slope
on an autumn day,
the shells soughing about my ears
and six dead men at my shoulder,
dead and stiff – and frozen were it not for the heat –
as if they were waiting for a message.

When the screech came
out of the sun,
out of an invisible throbbing,
the flame leaped and the smoke climbed
and surged every way:
blinding of eyes, splitting of hearing.

And after it, the six men dead
the whole day;
among the shells snoring
in the morning,
and again at midday
and in the evening.

In the sun, which was so indifferent,
so white and painful;
on the sand which was so comfortable,
easy and kindly;
and under the stars of Africa,
jewelled and beautiful.

One Election took them
and did not take me,
without asking us
which was better or worse:
it seemed as devilishly indifferent
as the shells.

Six men dead at my shoulder
on an Autumn Day.

Sorley MacLean, from Caoir Gheal Leumraich / White Leaping Flame: Collected Poems (ed. by Christopher Whyte and Emma Dymock)

The Old Ardroe Bridge

This old footbridge over the uidhe that seperates Achmelvich from Ardroe has felt the footsteps of many generations of Assynt crofters. It is now in a state of collapse. The floor fell out at the end of April 2013. Now even the otter cannot cross it. - Bill Ritchie

Basking Shark

To stub an oar on a rock where none should be,
To have it rise with a slounge out of the sea
Is a thing that happened once (too often) to me.

But not too often - though enough. I count as gain
That once I met, on a sea tin-tacked with rain,
That roomsized monster with a matchbox brain.

He displaced more than water. He shoggled me
Centuries back - this decadent townee
Shook on a wrong branch of his family tree.

Swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring
Is all the clearer. I saw me, in one fling,
Emerging from the slime of everything.

So who's the monster? The thought made me grow pale
For twenty seconds while, sail after sail,
The tall fin slid away and then the tail.

Norman MacCaig, from The Many Days: Selected Poems of Norman MacCaig

The House by the Sea, Eriskay

This is where the drowned climb to land.
For a single night when a boat goes down

soaked footprints line its cracked path
as inside they stand open mouthed at a fire,

drying out their lungs, that hang in their chests
like sacks of black wine. Some will have stripped

down to their washed skin, and wonder
whether they are now more moon than earth –

so pale. Some worry about the passage,
others still think about the deep. All share

a terrible thirst, wringing their hands
until the seawater floods across the floor.

Niall Campbell, from Moontide

Magritte Macphail

It is a union that suggests the essential mystery of the world. Art for me is not an end in itself, but a means of evoking that mystery.
René Magritte, on putting seemingly unrelated objects together in juxtaposition.

A rusting this,
a dented, pot shaped that,
an oatgrinder, half a caravan

the other half
slumped, sinking in the field,
sprouting a telly,
a welly

all evoking
the essential mystery
of the world
(west highland office)

and scattering it
across the croft,
like the rusted parts
of an old Trabant.

      But, lone piper
      of the unexplained,
      do we need surrealism
      and its strange signs?

      We have the fairy mounds,
      the circles,
      fluctuating broadband.

The Eye

Across the bay, they’re building a house
with a glass wall, panes all the way up

into the gable, windows that wrap
around corners for a view as wide

as sea and sky, to take in Sumburgh Head,
Auriga, every passing vessel

and pod of orca, storm-force gales,
anvil clouds, the cliffs of Levenwick,

the waxing moon lighting a track
clear to Fair Isle. This huge eye,

lidless, unfillable, as hungry
for every last object it can rest on

as if it were mortal, knowing how soon
light goes by; how little time it has.

Sheenagh Pugh, first published in Agenda (Celtic Mists issue, Vol. 46 No. 4)

Culbin Sands

Here lay a fair fat land;
    But now its townships, kirks, graveyards
Beneath bald hills of sand
    Lie buried deep as Babylonian shards.

But gales may blow again;
    And like a sand-glass turned about
The hills in a dry rain
    Will flow away and the old land look out;

And where now hedgehog delves
    And conies hollow their long caves
Houses will build themselves
    And tombstones rewrite names on dead men’s graves.

Andrew Young, from Selected Poems


‘...that which is absent from maps is as much a proper field
for enquiry as that which is present'    
J. B. Harley

This is not a horse.
Though if you were to listen hard,
You could smell the herd.


This is not a shoal
of fish. This is not silver
that’s shifting, but light.


This is not a church.
This is a flustered sparrow
in a cage of straw.


This is not a map.
This is my voice, passing through
a field of ripe wheat.


No, this is not a
mountain. This is memory
waiting for your boots.

Tom Pow, from Concerning the Atlas of Scotland and other poems



Some dösna laek wir dialect an dis is what dey say:                        
‘We ocht ta dö awa wi it – hit's truly  hed its day.                         
An hit's no wirt a boddie's while ta spaek it onywye:                     
Hit's brokken English, brokken Scots, an idder bruk firbye.’              
Dis view I dönna favour, and der wan thing very clear,
We’re hed dis Shetlan dialect fir twartree hunder year;
An if you geng ta study it, A’m shöre at you’ll agree
Der Norn wirds atil it, jöst as plain as dey can be. 

Noo, if a boat you mention, dan der mony a Norn name                   
Fae da tilfers ida boddim, ta da stamreen at da stem.                 
An hit's Norn wirds you're spaekin whin you wirk ita da hill               
Wi da tushkar at you cast wi an da kishie at you fill.   

An you couldna döwithoot dem whin you’re scrapin möldie-bletts,
Or aandooin fir pilticks roond da baas an at da kletts;
Ya, da Norn stillis wi wis, an hit’s waddered mony a baff –
We öse it still apo da laand an fram apo da haaf.

Der litle doot da dialect haes loks o English wirds,
An if you look fir Scots eens, dan you fin dem dere in mirds.
An I winder wha could tell me if der onything at’s wrang
Wi wirds at Scott wret mony a time an Robbie Burns sang.

An as fir brokken English, dey wid laekly less be said
Aboot it if dey tocht what wye da English speech wis med.
What is dis English, onywye? Dey took da wirds dey fan
In Latin, Greek, an idder tungs, an altered every wan.

Der naethin wrang wi dat, you kyin, what sood dey idder dö?
Bit if dey altered Latin we can alter English tö.
Da English is a aacht ta hae whin you’re awa fae haem;
You hae ta meet wi uncan folk an you maan spaek wi dem.

Bit here ita da Isles hit’s laek a pair o Sunday shön,
Ower weel ta pit apo you whin your daily wark is döne;
Dey’re no what you’d be wearin ta geng buksin trowe a mire,
Or rowin oot apo da voe, or kyerryin fae da byre.

Sae ony een at wants can knap as muckle as dey laek,
Bit lat wis keep da Shetlan wirds at we’re bön wint ta spaek.
Dey’re maybe no perskeet, you kyin, dey’re maybe haem-aboot,
Bit what we’re aalwis hed we widna laek ta dö withoot.

T. A. Robertson, from The Collected Poems of Vagaland

Lorca on Morar


Areesaig’, ‘Morrarr…’
the beach stands up
in little whirlwinds of ash
in my Hispanic mouth,

the dunes become chintz
statues of white sand,
poodles with griffon beaks.

Mannerism of stranded sea-horses!
Salute a small poet
murdered for being red and gay.

All the spaces of Scotland
disclose me without warning,
beam me down from whatever limbo
buries in the olive prose of death.

Now: this my purgatory,
ghost country whose name
never crossed my lips.

Morar, morire, muerte:
my very element
from which I hail Atlantic
breakers and you
‘beautiful old
Walt Whitman'.

The Whale-watcher

And when at last the road
gives out, I’ll walk –
harsh grass, sea-maws,
lichen-crusted bedrock –

and hole up the cold
summer in some battered
caravan, quartering
the brittle waves

till my eyes evaporate
and I’m willing again
to deal myself in:
having watched them

breach, breathe, and dive
far out in the glare,
like stitches sewn in a rent
almost beyond repair.

Kathleen Jamie, from The Tree House


Air an t-slighe sìos
gu ruige ’n caladh anns a’ bhreacarsaich
agus an Western Isles a’ fuireach,
a lìon beag is beag,
chaidh na rionnagan às an t-sealladh.

Thall am bad
air choreigin, dh’fhairich mi fead.
Chaidh na h-eòin às.
Dh’fhàs an speur dearg.

Agus cuid aca, mun àm sin
agus an dà thràth ri dealachadh,
nach ann a bhuail iad anns an sgàilean
mar gun robh iad a’ feuchainn
ri cur às dhaibh fhèin.

Rody Gorman, from Dreuchd An Fhigheadair / The Weaver's Task: a Gaelic Sampler (ed. and intro. by Crìsdean MhicGhilleBhàin/Christopher Whyte)

This evening

This evening
Walking down
To the harbour,
I pictured The Western Isles
Filling up, piece by piece,
As the stars went down.

Above the hull,
From somewhere, I heard
A whistle.
The birds disappeared,
The sky reddened,

And some of them,
Wild with flight,
Didn’t they crash against
The screen, like feathered

translated by John Burnside


This far north, the harvest happens late.
Rooks go clattering over the sycamores
whose shadows yawn after them, down to the river.
Uncut wheat staggers under its own weight.

Summer is leaving too, exchanging its gold
for brass and copper. It is not so strange
to feel nostalgia for the present; already
this September evening is as old

as a photograph of itself. The light, the shadows
on the field, are sepia, as if this were
some other evening in September, some other
harvest that went ungathered years ago.

Dorothy Lawrenson, pub. in Painted, spoken, 22

Hebridean Storyteller

The Hebridean Storyteller is inspired by the Western Isles of Scotland and aims to shine a light on the rich culture and heritage of these unique islands. The chair uses technology to bring the stories of islanders to life, giving the user an insight into what life is like living on an island on the edge of a nation and a continent. It does this by first sensing the users presence with a pressure sensor embedded within the seat. This acts as a trigger that audibly plays a random story through speakers built into the arms of the chair. I hope that this project will help raise awareness of the islands and encourage people to want to explore them further.
The actual design of the chair takes inspiration from the islands distinct characteristics - strong, resilient and dependable, yet warm and inviting. It is modern and contemporary but still holds tradition in its heart - the use of Harris Tweed in the upholstery is a symbol of the people of the island and their strong identity and livelihood. - John Thomson

wild water

the island in September

yellow sea-cabbage                        blue of scabious

white of yarrow                              pink of yarrow

the eye of ragwort                         sound of the harebell

cloud of meadowsweet          willowherb seed froth

salt in the mayweed                       mayweed in sand

rust of docken                                seared burdock

fruit of the bramble                      splash yellow of lichen

bistort alone

long drift of chamomile          tormentil yellow

red of haws                                    red of rowan

bistort alone                                  bittersweet

violet of self-heal                          blue of scabious

Gerry Loose, from island (Spring 2003)

Peat Reek

Set in the early 19th century, James Stewart is a young and enthusiastic customs officer who has just been dispatched to a lawless region of the Highlands in order to tackle the widespread illicit distillation of white-spirit: Peat Reek.

Upon his arrival he meets and begins an unsteady relationship with the local Presbyterian minister: Lachlan; a man who appears to have no opposition to the illegality of the distillation practise.

In conversation with Lachlan in his dimly lit home, James attempts to understand the complacency that Lachlan and the other locals have with the illegal activities that are going on around them. With little government support, he is left helpless in a hostile and baron [sic] landscape. -
Peat Reek

Salt of the Earth

The man was off the land
a land where he could see
The sea to where he looked
to shores where he longed to be

Craig Mackay, Brora-based visual artist


Wind-whittled, turned on the sea’s lathe too long,
built by a craftsman who can’t leave it alone:
the trees scoured off, the houses pared down
to their stones, the animals less skin than bone.

We walk to Windhoose, find a barn even the ghosts
have left, a sheep’s spine turning on a string,
a name reduced to nothing but it’s sound.
Our silences become the better part of us.

Helen Mort, extract from North of Everywhere from Division Street


Alasdair, a lobster fisherman from the Isle of Lewis, believes he witnesses a suicide from the coastal cliffs, however when he rushes to where the man fell in there is no trace of anyone to save.  On land in his close-knit community there is no record of anyone missing, no body is found and doubt begins to form in those around him.  The sea is where Alasdair finds quietude and purpose, however a harsh winter has crippled the supply of lobster and as he struggles to provide for his wife and young son, the suicide experience haunts him and his profound relationship with the sea begins to sour.  A looming wind farm project also promises to transform the land around him, which has always been, like the sea, a comforting constant in his life.  Uncertain of the future of the Hebridean man he begins to withdraw from his family questioning the role he has in their lives.  He is drawn to the cliffs and develops a fascination with the man he believes he saw die and begins to question his own mortality and the value of his own life, in a world where a man can vanish into the sea and not be missed.
Tide - A Scottish Short Film
Gordon Napier

The Isle of Jura

the sound & the silences
the lighthouse & the standing stone
the road & the moor
the fuschia & the hazel
the garden & the beach
the clay pigeons & the wild goats
the peat-bog & the whirlpool
the hotel & the ruin
the ferry & the shingle
the sound & the silences
Ken Cockburn, from The Thing that Mattered Most: Scottish poems for children (ed by Julie Johnstone)


It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'
Alastair Reid, from Inside Out

An t-Seann Chairt Againn

Ghiùlain i mìle mìorbhail –
pocan-mòna nach tèid àireamh,
clòimhtean chaorach bhon an àirigh,
badan feòir is cocan-eòrna,

còig gille deug air am pronnadh
agus aon latha foghair
rùda mòr a chaidh a rùsgadh
is faoileag a' danns air adhairc.

Bha an t-each sean is caol ge-tà
's chaidh a reic ri ceàrd bha siubhal,
's ghabh fuaim am Massey Ferguson àit'
gliog is brag na cuibhill.

                                    A' chairt
na fealla-dhà làn-ùine. Air bòrd, sheòl
sinn gu San Francisco, 's dh'èirich pàirt
dhan ghealaich, 's a' chluasag-bheòil

bhiodh ceangal an asail 's na cuibhl'
fhathast nam postan-coise
a' meirgeadh thall an Uibhist.

Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul, from Aibisidh

Our Old Cart

She bore wonders –
endless sacks of dusty peat,
countless bags of oily wool,
stooks of hay and jagged corn,

fifteen squashed boys,
and one spectacular day
a sheared ram with a stray
gull dancing on its horns.

But the horse grew old
and was sold to a passing tinker,
so the brand-new Massey Ferguson
replaced the bridle's chinkle.

                           The cart
became our plaything. It sailed
to San Francisco, and part of it flew
to the moon, and that bit

which connects the axle to the wheel
became a pair of goal-posts which still stand
rusting in the relentless Uist wind.

Angus Peter Campbell, from Aibisidh

Donald John

A small glimpse into the world of crofter, fisherman and ex-shipyard worker Donald John MacLeod as he took us out on a boat trip round the North Uist islands.  - Mark Campbell


I came a cross Angus, a local crofter, on my way up to Cheesebay on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Angus gives a glimpse into times past hand shearing a young sheep with the tenderness of the loving shepherd. - Mark Campbell

Sheep Hill, Fair Isle

I begin sheepishly,
   feel with fingers
attempt to roo

your softness taut
in struggle. I soothe
           with lullaby

you settle. In no time
at all the shear's song
reveals your baby skin

     you free yourself
of me. Hoof it away. My fingers
lanolin soft with your memory.

Raman Mundair, from The New Shetlander, Hairst issue, 2003

Ceithir Gaothan na h-Albann

M’oiteag cheòlmhor chaoin ’teachd deiseil nam bheitheach Samhraidh i,
mo stoirm chuain le dìle ’cur still ’s gach alltan domh,
a’ ghaoth tuath le cathadh sneachda nì dreachmhor beanntan domh,
a’ ghaoth tha ’g iomain m’fhalaisg Earraich ri leathad ghleanntaichean.

Duilleach an t-Samhraidh, tuil an Dàmhair, na cuithean ’s an àrdghaoth Earraich i;
dùrd na coille, bùirich eas, ùire ’n t-sneachda ’s an fhalaisg i;
tlàths is binneas, àrdan, misneach, fàs is sileadh nam frasan i;
anail mo chuirp, àrach mo thuigse, mo làmhan, m’uilt is m’anam i.
Fad na bliadhna, rè gach ràithe, gach là ’s gach ciaradh feasgair dhomh,
is i Alba nan Gall ’s nan Gàidheal is gaire, is blàths, is beatha dhomh.

Deòrsa Caimbeul Hay, from Fuaran Sléibh: rainn Ghaidhlig

The Four Winds of Scotland

My melodious, gentle breeze blowing from southward in my Summer
birchwood is she;
my ocean storm, with downpour sending in headlong spate each
burn for me;
the north wind with driving snow that makes beautiful the hills for me;
the wind that drives my Springtime muirburn up the slopes of glens
is she.

The leaves of Summer, the spate of Autumn, the snowdrifts and the
high Spring wind is she;
the sough of the woodland, the roaring of waterfalls, the freshness of
the snow and the heather ablaze is she;
mild pleasantness and melody, angry pride and courage, growth and
the pouring of the showers is she;
breath of my body, nurture of my understanding, my hands, my joints
and my soul is she.
All year long, each season through, each day and each fall of dusk
for me,
it is Scotland, Highland and Lowland, that is laughter and warmth and
life for me.

George Campbell Hay


Rona is an island off the mainland of Scotland and the Isle of Skye. The Island has had a long history of occupation and the remains of its inhabitants can still be found in this remote place. The project documents and maps the Island through the traces of disappearance that can be found there. Despite its remoteness the Island is also threatened by the effects of overfishing and climate change (drought and flooding). The project attempts to reflect the Island as a microcosm of our own possible future, in which large groups are forced to abandon their homes or homeland as it becomes uninhabitable through social or environmental changes. - Marc Atkinson

She, By The Sea

(A song for Norma Winstone)

in the morning
by the sea
she skips along the sand
by the out-tide
far calm blue
her mind stretches
across the wet rib miles
making pictures
of how it can be

by afternoon
she’s shuffling along the sand
beside the in-tide
kicking mounds
spraying grains
making movements
of how it is
and longs for it to be

dusk to dark
she follows the retreating sea
on extending sand again

a straight-line walker
on rippling white beam
under a rising western moon
causing causes felt and unseen

she hears a call out and under yonder
and swims herself there
to find assistance in the sea

Alistair Paterson

Clan Donald's Call to Battle At Harlaw

after the Gaelic of Lachlann Mor MacMhuirich (fl. 1411)

You Clann of Conn, remember this:
Strength from the eye of the storm.
Be at them, be animals,
Be alphas, be Argus-eyed,
Be belters, be brandishers
Be bonny, be batterers,
Be cool heads, be caterans,
Be clashers, be conquerors,
Be doers, be dangerous,
Be dashing, be diligent,
Be eager, be excellent,
Be eagles, be elegant,
Be foxy, be ferrety,
Be fervid, be furious,
Be grimmer, be gralloching,
Be grinders, be gallopers,
Be hardmen, be hurriers,
Be hell-bent, be harriers,
Be itching, be irritants,
Be impish, be infinite,
Be lucky, be limitless
Be lashers, be loftiest,
Be manly, be murderous,
Be martial, be militant,
Be noxious, be noisiest,
Be knightly, be niftiest,
Be on guard, be orderly,
Be off now, be obdurate,
Be prancing, be panic-free,
Be princely, be passionate,
Be rampant, be renderers,
Be regal, be roaring boys,
Be surefire, be Somerleds,
Be surgers, be sunderers,
Be towering, be tactical,
Be tip-top, be targetters,
Be urgent, be up for it,
In vying be vigorous
In ending all enemies.
Today is for triumphing,
You hardy great hunting-dogs,
You big-boned braw battle boys,
You lightfoot spry lionhearts,
You wall of wild warriors,
You veterans of victories,
You heroes in your hundreds here,
You Clan of Conn, remember this:
Strength from the eye of the storm.

Robert Crawford, from Full Volume

Dandelion Seeds

From somewhere -
from the Pennines, from Skye,
will arrive the puff of air
to make us fly.

In each barbed seed
(as in a nib of gold)
though they call us weed
is light untold -

to scatter like suns
in the Cosmos's breath,
and billow long tons
of blooms from death.

Gerry Cambridge


Children of the Smoke
Shore to Shore
Bella Caledonia

The Spiral

The seasons of this year are in my luggage.
Now, lifting the last picture from the wall,
I close the eyes of the room. Each footfall
clatters on the bareness of the stair.
The family ghosts fade in the hanging air.
Mirrors reflect the silence. There is no message.
I wait in the still hall for a car to come.
Behind, the house will dwindle to a name.

Places, addresses, faces left behind.
The present is a devious wind
obliterating days and promises.
Tomorrow is a tinker's guess.
Marooned in cities, dreaming of greenness,
or dazed by journeys, dreading to arrive -
change, change is where I live.

For possibility,
I choose to leave behind
each language, each country.
Will this place be an end,
or will there be one other,
truer, rarer?

Often now, in dream,
abandoned landscapes come,
figuring a constant theme:
Have you left us behind?
What have you still to find?

Across the spiral distance,
through time and turbulence,
the rooted self in me
maps out its true country.

And, as my father found
his own small weathered island,
so will I come to ground

where that small man, my son,
can put his years on.

For him, too, time will turn.

Alastair Reid