Just listened to a BBC biography of George Mackay Brown.
Normally, I am not into poetry but the sheer powerful and simple imagery of his language is amazing. ‘The poet’s poet’ and possibly Britain’s greatest 20th Century poet according to the Guardian.
Hard to disagree. When you hear it read with a Scottish brogue, you are there. You can smell the oil of the ferry. Feel the salty wind. Taste the beer and the heat of the fire in the pub. You have to go to the Isles to understand it I think.
Almost equally fascinating is Stella Cartwright, the Muse of Rose Street (though there seems to be several). “She had a stellar quality — sheer animal sexuality combined with this exquisite soul.”
Every year he wrote an acrostic poem for her. She died an achoholic at the age of 47. He of cancer many years later.
Monday I found a boot –
Rust and salt leather.
I gave it back to the sea, to dance in.
Tuesday a spar of timber worth thirty bob. Next winter It will be a chair, a coffin, a bed.
Wednesday a half can of Swedish spirits. I tilted my head. The shore was cold with mermaids and angels.
Thursday I got nothing, seaweed, A whale bone, Wet feet and a loud cough.
Friday I held a seaman’s skull, Sand spilling from it The way time is told on kirkyard stones.
Saturday a barrel of sodden oranges. A Spanish ship Was wrecked last month at The Kame.
Sunday, for fear of the elders, I sit on my bum. What’s heaven? A sea chest with a thousand gold coins.