Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Skye is a magical island both for visitors and even more so for those who are born there and have to move away. Alexander Nicolson (who produced a revised version of the Gaelic Bible and a collection of Gaelic proverbs in the latter half of the 19th Century, while also earning his living as a Sheriff in Glasgow) captures some of that in this poem.
SkyeMy heart is yearning to thee, O Skye!
Dearest of Islands!
There first the sunshine gladdened my eye,
On the sea sparkling;
There doth the dust of my dear ones lie,
In the old graveyard.
Bright are the golden green fields to me,
Here in the Lowlands;
Sweet sings the mavis in the thorn-tree,
Snowy with fragrance:
But oh for a breath of the great North Sea,
Girdling the mountains!
Good is the smell of the brine that laves
Black rock and skerry,
Where the great palm-leaved tangle waves
Down in the green depths,
And round the craggy bluff pierced with caves
Sea-gulls are screaming.
When the sun sinks below Humish Head,
Crowning in glory,
As he goes down to his ocean bed
Studded with islands,
Flushing the Coolin with royal red,
Would I were sailing!
Many a hearth round that friendly shore
Giveth warm welcome;
Charms still are there, as in days of yore,
More than of mountains;
But hearths and faces are seen no more
Once of the brightest.
Many a poor black cottage is there,
Grimy with peat smoke,
Sending up in the soft evening air
Purest blue incense,
While the low music of psalm and prayer
Rises to Heaven.
Kind were the voices I used to hear
Round such a fireside,
Speaking the mother tongue old and dear,
Making the heart beat
With sudden tales of wonder and fear,
Or plaintive singing.
Great were the marvellous stories told
Of Ossian's heroes,
Giants, and witches, and young men bold,
Winning kings' daughters and guarded gold,
Only with valour.
Reared in those dwellings have brave ones been;
Brave ones are still there;
Forth from their darkness on Sunday I've seen
Coming pure linen,
And like the linen the souls were clean
Of them that wore it.
See that thou kindly use them, O man!
To whom God giveth
Stewardship over them, in thy short span
Not for thy pleasure;
Woe be to them who choose for a clan
Blessings be with ye, both now and aye
Dear human creatures!
Yours is the love that no gold can buy!
Nor time wither
Peace be to thee and thy children, O Skye!
Dearest of islands.
Meaning of unusual words:
skerry=an isolated rock, covered at high tide
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Isle of Skye
Why did Morton want to see Skye more than anywhere else?
Morton believed Skye “the strangest place in the British Isles”. Some of that aura’s inevitably gone now it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge, but not the breathtaking views Morton described.
Looking for the perfect vista on which to end his journey, Morton wasn’t disappointed by the views from the top of the Cuillins. “The grandest and gloomiest view in all Britain” is equally majestic to all today, who understand how ‘gloominess’ was an essential element of Morton’s perfect landscape, evoking as it did remoteness and wildness.
I last visited the Isle of Skye over forty years ago, and remember it as a remote and wild place, with a landscape that evoked history. Dunvegan castle and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
We were camping with our caravan, and stayed at a campground that overlooked Portree, I wonder if it is still there? We took the ferry across from Kyle of Localsh to Kyleakin. I remember we had good weather, except for the drive through the Cuillins when it was overcast, and it's true the gloom was great.
Let's hope we have great weather for our trip.
Friday, July 17, 2009
I am enjoying reading this book. David McFadden's style of writing is personable. He wants to visit his ancestral home and follow in the steps of H. V. Morton's route around the country. McFadden is absorbed by the landscape and especially the people.
He is a great listener and engages you in his time spent in B&B's, pubs and just where he meets people and has a chat. People tell him all sorts of things from what's happening today in Scotland, the past, land clearance by the Lairds, to the travel of Scots to far flung places of the globe. His erratic travels follow Morton's journey in the 1920's.
The cover says it's a good fireside read. It's a little warm right now for a fire, but on a thundery, rainy afternoon, it makes for a good read.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We had tedious driving this afternoon ad were somewhat drowsy. Last night I was afraid Dr. Johnson was beginning to faint in his resolution, for he said, "If we must ride much, we shall not go; and there's an end on't. To-day, when he talked of Sky with spirit, I said "Why, sir, you seemed to me to despond yesterday. you are a delicate Londoner; you are a maccaroni; you can't ride." JOHNSON. "Sir, I shall ride better than you. I was only afraid I should not find a horse able to carry m." I hoped then there would be no fear of getting through our wild tour.
James Boswell, Ninth Laird of Achinleck (1740-1795). Scottish lawyer and diarist.