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. 49: Tentsmuir

Wednesday 17 September 2014, 10:54

A Tentsmuir Flora

“Existing floras exhibit only one moment in the history of the earth’s vegetation.”
Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer: ‘Plant Distribution’, Encyclopaedia Britannica

A moment that you might fathom, you’d think,
reciting names like adderstongue and moonwort,
coralroot and yellow birdsnest,
listed in Tentsmuir’s resonant flora.
But then an owl at Morton Lochs disgorges
a pellet packed with fieldmouse fur
and tiny bones from a neighbouring parish,
and seeds that will grow into another moment.

And there are days when haar drifts in from the sea
and settles like drops of mercury on rhubarb leaves,
when you step out into the garden,
into the moment before; digging, you unearth
bits of clay pipe, the bowl inscribed with
Masonic symbols: a pair of compasses
like a Pictish V-rod; in shifting light
your fossil-heap a shellfish-midden.

Moments washed by Forth and Tay; Fife
a mesopotamia of silts and erosions;
a kingdom stretched between its firths
like a hide from the scriptorium at Balmyrnie,
barley-fields the colour of vellum.
Earth you may as well be fathomed in, you think,
instinctively at home, peninsular,
putting down roots almost by accident.

You heard a story about a plant that sprang up
when a ship from Tierra del Fuego sank
at the mouth of the Tay; how Patagonian fleeces
hung for weeks on Tentsmuir’s barbed-wire.
Wind was combing the wool with weavers’ fingers,
as you remembered the Huguenots who fled
here in an earlier wave; loosened seeds
of Norwegian Lamb’s Lettuce taking root.

 

Anna Crowe
from Punk with Dulcimer (Peterloo Poets, 2007)

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 48: Ceres

Tuesday 16 September 2014, 09:57

Lunardi

A Tailor baling cloth at Teuchats swore
blind he’d seen a sneak thief near Baltilly with a tup.

The Molecatcher and Ropemaker from Sodom and Gomorrah
told the congregation of an angel over Cassindilly way.

A Saddler from Laddedie gouged tally marks
and secret signs on fabled elms at Edenwood that day.

A Millwright netting butterflies on Magus Muir was sure
he heard diurnal owls hooting at the moon.

The Midwife and a Sick-Nurse, bunking up at Barbarafield, caught
the stench of burning flesh from Struthers Barns.

A Milliner from Kinninmonth told anyone who’d listen
of the sighing of a dying man somewhere west of Bandirran.

A Vintner and the Weavers’ Agent, both at Gathercauld, could not
recall exactly what they saw by Teasses Mill.

A Flaxman from Tarvit Farm would later boast
a thousand fireflies flitting up the Findas road in broad daylight.

The daughter of the slaughterman, guddling in the Ceres Burn,
foretold the fall of Icarus at a milestone near Callange.

Lindsay Macgregor

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

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 47: Peterhead

Monday 15 September 2014, 09:55

Farewell to Tarwathie

Listen – the lyrics laud
Iceclad coasts, land
Barren and bare, no bird
To sing to the whale.

Celebrating sea sojourns
Ships well rigged, heavy with supplies
Comrades hunting to battle
Water, waves, the whale

Listen – the singers’ voices recall
Our great grandfathers’ craves
For adventure, for riches
For the love of their lass on return

Rewrite – we laud the lyrics but
Yearn to cut free the carcass
From the blubber of history’s burden
To reveal the bones of awe.

Petra Vergunst

Petra writes: "The poem is inspired by the whaling exhibition in the Arbuthnott Museum in Peterhead - the town from where a hundred years ago whaling vessels used to depart. The poem refers to the folksong Farewell to Tarwathie. I have written it as part of my project Sharing at the Shoreline (see http://www.musicforcommunities.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/sharing-at-shoreli...). My general blog address is www.musicforcommunities.blogspot.com."

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

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

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 46: Achmelvich

Sunday 14 September 2014, 09:45

Walking

First there is wonder:
a river-wrack dance on incoming tide,
two otters twining out to sea,
moss under crushing footsteps,
a radiant sedge,
a raven overhead.

Then there is wondering:
why one rowan toppled in the storm,
upending boulders to survive
all tangled, all-angled complexity,
while the smaller simply
shed another limb.

For a moment, there is insight:
mosses and lichens, liverworts and ferns
will overgrow the wounded wood,
scarred trunks will heal,
the lightened crown will stand;
there is elegance or there is sprawl.

On the way back
it is the same grey day
but everything is different;
even the river
flows the other way.

Mandy Haggith

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Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 45: Egilsay

Saturday 13 September 2014, 09:47

An Egilsay Calendar

All January the black cattle tread straw
in byre pens. Jim’s squeegee rattles slats.
‘As the days lengthen, so the cowld strengthens.’

Wild February storms batter at homesteads:
‘I don’t like the look of it at aal, at aal.’
Pauline takes tottering lambs in her arms.

Maeness. Welland. Whitelett. Sound.

Snow blankets all in mid-March to the tide-line.
Axle-deep Jim’s tractor brings sheep-nuts and hay.
Eclipsed are the swans on the lochans.

After Easter prayer in the round-towered kirk
poor Lifolf split the skull of great Magnus.
A bloodied earth-patch sprang into greensward.

Thorfinn. Rognvald. Magnus. Hakon.

Skylarks in May spiral upwards in song.
The grass and barley sway bright green.
Corncrakes rasp against curlews’ bubbling lilt.

It’s June. The shopkeeper’s gone to his boat:
‘Take what you need. Leave money in this box.’
Hear the snipe drumming in the midnight sky.

Onziebust. Orchin. Horsequoy. Howan.

Visitors trudge the shore in July, pass
fulmar cliffs, silver sands, rocky voes,
by Horsequoy’s reef skirt the Simmental bull.

August. Jim sweats at his silage and hay,
sets lambs to frisk on a new-mown meadow.
Sighted off Maeness—a pod of basking-sharks.

North Toft. Whistlebane. South Toft. Warsett.

Two combines in September fight wet oats.
The historian turns aside from the kirk’s
walled graveyard, to return to the city.

Will October bring a peedie summer?
Wigeon, goldeneye and wintering mallard
bob with the swans on the Loch of the Graand.

Manse Loch. The Graand. Loch Watten. The Hubbet.

Five children comb Skaill beach in November
for a bonfire, to burn at North Toft.
High flames, to signal to Rousay’s and Wyre’s.

The Egilsay school’s Nativity Scene —
there’s an inn, a crib, an ox and an ass.
Insula ecclesia. Omphalos.

Eri Clett. Point of Steedie. Skaill Taing. Roe Ness.

Peter Jarvis

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

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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. 44: Lerwick

Friday 12 September 2014, 09:43

When it rained glass in Lerwick

Glass is falling from the sky
and like a particularly determined pigeon,
it is finding its way to land on
windscreens and wing mirrors.
It is volcanic too, and I wonder
if that means it will bend its less mobile
siblings into intriguing new shapes;
or at least leave better-than-average pockmarks.
I’m sure the humble worker glass,
all functional transparency and straight edges,
longs to be blown and stained, so it too
can be a vessel for rapture.
I mean, who wants to be seen through
when you can be adored.

Rishi Dastidar

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