Poetry Map

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. Find out more about the project and how to submit your poem by clicking here, or browse the poems using the map. Latest poems are listed below.

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 220: Portobello

Tuesday 13 October 2015, 16:56

Portobello Strand

We come to this northern shore to be polite —
to share in this finished, open health,
this slow-walking, seagull-shot spirit-calm
and leave our poisoned arias behind —
the banal, internecine brutality,
the choking, distending messes
of our exploited home countries —
for a chance at this semi-salt clean.

Brazilians check festival tickets,
Poles serve up fried haddock and chips
with ketchup at Portobello strand
where even the bees demure from stinging.

We come here — Chinese, Tibetans, Nepalese,
Muslim Indians, Christian Pakistanis

for Noble Leisure! Prize Bingo!
walking this wide, untrammelled bay
gripping white moccasins in one jewelled hand.

A blank blade of paper's running crosswise
cutting through fevered muscle memory —
clutted-up disenfranchisement,
stiff, bloated, wracking despair
some Portuguese how-to-get-in-touch-with-you's
are languidly transversing — paper
soaking up wound-energy in pools
just by virtue of its blankness passing through,
pain forming fine new patterns on the page
as of words written there by agency

satisfying a cyclical urge for nuance
mature as October sunset, its tree-line
ribboning the glen-side umber and auburn —
colours singing the sky's longing for earth
in their very leaves' crippling, their colour-blood
perfectly, aesthetically spilling down.

This was the method of Job's tears,
building castles by dribbling sand.

Sometimes worshippers march, creating holes,
little rips in the space-time continuum
through which they would grab baser glories.

"Even so, Beloved, I at last record,
Here ends my strife. If thou invite me forth,
I rise above abasement at the word.
Make thy love larger to enlarge my worth."

 

Andrew Singer

(Quote is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese)

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 219: Isle of Muck

Monday 12 October 2015, 16:40

Camas na Cairidh, Isle of Muck

No sign of the sea-life I was told
swam in the bay: the basking sharks,
the minke whales; no otters here.
Only the lubricated head
of a lonely seal, anxious to know
what threats are lurking on the shore.

Sufficient to know that they are there,
will appear in their own good time.
For now, I am content to sit,
the islands laid out at my feet:
Rum, Canna, Eigg and cloud-topped Skye,
the dark blue sea, the seabirds' cry.

John Maguire

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 218: National Library, Edinburgh

Sunday 11 October 2015, 18:33

The Optimism of Youth

She sits in the reference room,
high domed, lined with books.
Silent, except for the turn
of a page, a reader’s breath,
the laying down of spectacles
on a brown wooden desk.

I gather my papers,
buckle leather satchel,
step into an empty street
that hides its grime
under layers of white.

Flakes swirl and dance.
Crossing the road she waits
for a number twenty seven bus
that will never come. Waits
in this magical moment,
silver from head to toe.

I stand in a winter cathedral
filled with flight of owl,
feather vaulted, wing swept.
Library windows, obsidian dark,
turn outwards. Lamp filtered light
sheds pale gold down a long aisle.

Soft fur drapes parapets
and lintels. Movement
ghosts over pavements,
faded footstep tracery.
Star webs hang on lashes,
stick to her hair and coat.

Powder flurries glitter, sparkle.
The city is mine. I take pleasure
walking in the middle of the road.
Go peacefully towards the altar
of unpolluted nothingness.

Alison Barr

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 217: Foula

Monday 5 October 2015, 16:30

Foula

We were two girls and the three-man crew

of the Foula mail boat. Grocery boxes crowded

around the coffin of an island woman

who had died in town.

Damp fog closed in. The engine thundered.

Its fumes hung in the air, its wake was dizzying swirls

of white water. Occasional birds - a guillemot or puffin -

flew with us over the slow heave of the waves.

Two hours and twenty-two miles out to sea

the men cut the engine. And listened

for water breaking on rocks.

We might have missed Foula. We might be heading

out into the ocean. Onto reefs. Into cliffs.

Even on clear days the five-peaked silhouette

was never certain. It was always a gift.

A horn. We heard a horn. Someone on shore

was blowing long and continuous notes

to guide us in to the pier.

When we landed, the Laird's wife snatched our wrists

and drew us with her to the Hall

for women folk must not be part of the procession

carrying the coffin into the mist.

Foula. The edge of the world.

 

Laurna Robertson

Published in Praise Song, December 2014

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 216: Helensburgh

Sunday 4 October 2015, 10:23

Waterside

The swans in twos would sail along,
Along the grimy pier;
The winds were wet; the seas were strong;
The captain smelt like beer;
The harbour-master hummed a song
And hauled a salty rope among
The passengers and gear.

The waters where the colours float
Did not seem very deep;
Upon the stones a fishing boat,
Its ribs were pale and steep;
A hobo crumpled in a heap,
His crinkled eyes were shut with sleep,
His head lay on his coat.

I understand it now; the way
That life has slipped aside,
While I was watching by the bay
For something great, and wide;
And waters wash up every day
We things that have been thrown away,
We articles of tide.

 

Thomas Clark

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 215: Ross-shire

Saturday 3 October 2015, 15:19

No Flowers

 

Stephen Keeler

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map