r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: October 2015

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'.