On Islay I bought a collection of poems by George Campbell Hay, a native of Argyll who wrote in Scots, English and Gaelic. He was influenced by Hugh MacDiarmid and the Scottish Renaissance.
I have been inspired by little nuggets like this:
Ar cainnt’s ar cultar, car sealain
ged rachadh an leagadh buileach,
cuiridh am freumhan’s an seann stoc dhidh
failleanan snodhaich is duilleach.
(Our speech and culture, | though they should be wholly cast down for a time, | their roots and their old stock will put forth | sappy shoots and leaves again)
I found some sheet music collected by Duncan Johnston called the Croon of the Sea, and hope to learn some of it to sing alongside the new work. I love this one:
In the quiet of the night my galley sets sail,
The ship of my sleep a-sailing,
The haven she seeks by the moonbeams, pale,
Where the laughing eyes are a-hailing.
I’ll meet with my people and kindred of yore,
The voices of childhood a-calling,
We will scamper and play among the green shore
In the isle of life’s fair morning.
I’ve written this in response:
A generation after
My dad raises my gran’s face with a touch of nephew. He says
Aye aye. Aye aye.
Empty air, halted in the larynx
A purgatory populated with saying it as it is
With to the point
With opening up and letting rip.
He steers his ship, with a crew of half answers
And the smoky air never clears
Never for a moment allowing us a good view
Of the whole scene and of each other
This is my last inheritance
In his mouth he brought
Embers, oose, talcum powder
Breath that fails to find the voice.