Sunday, August 13, 2006

Skara Brae

Here in our village in the west
We are little regarded.

The lords of tilth and loch
Are Quarrying (we hear)
Great stones to make a stone circle.

In the last of the snow
A great one died
In that stone hollow in the east.
A winter sunset
Will touch his mouth. He carries
A cairngorm on his cold finger
To the country of the dead.

They come here from Birsay
To take our fish for taxes. Otherwise
We are left in peace
With our small fires and pots.

Will it be a morning for fishermen?
The sun died in red flames
Then the night swarmed with stars, like fish.

The sea gives and takes. The sea
Devoured four houses one winter.

Ask the old one to make a clay lamp
The ripening sun
May be pleased with the small flame, at-plough-time.

George Mackay Brown (1921 - 1996)


Littlestone said...

Thanks to suave harv on TMA for drawing my attention to this poem.

Evan Hughes said...

I first saw this poem on the wall of the Visitors' Centre at Skara Brae in May 2009.

There are very few poems I've read which capture the spirit of a place as well as this one does.