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Scotland Small? -- Hugh MacDiarmid

       
(Poem #1172) Scotland Small?
 Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland _small_?
 Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliche corner
 To a fool who cries "Nothing but heather!" Where in September another
 Sitting there and resting and gazing around
 Sees not only heather but blaeberries
 With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet,
 Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
 Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
 And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
 Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
 And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
 In living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
 Of yellow, green and pink; sundew and butterwort
 And nodding harebells vying in their colour
 With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them,
 And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour
 "Nothing but heather!" -- How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!
-- Hugh MacDiarmid
It's refreshing, especially in these troubled times, to find a poem that
displays an unabashed love for one country without an accompanying
disrespect (or worse) for others. MacDiarmid does not puff Scotland up with
facile comparisons, he does not praise extravagantly, nor does he deprecate
or stoop to condescension; he does not need to. His deep-felt connection
with his land shines through in every word of his description; it's the
_detail_ that makes the difference.

thomas.

PS. It's good to be back :)

[Minstrels Links]

England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales:
Poem #65, Home Thoughts From Abroad  -- Robert Browning
Poem #1172, Scotland Small? -- Hugh MacDiarmid
Poem #41, Ireland, Ireland  -- Sir Henry Newbolt
Poem #374, Psalm Of the Valleys  -- Alex Pascall

58 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anustup Datta said...

Today's poem puts me in mind of Dr. Johnson for a telling riposte: "Let me
tell you, sir, that the noblest prospect a Scotsman ever sees is the high
road that leads him to England." This was in response to someone like Hugh
MacDiarmid who praised the "noble prospects" of Scotland.

Regards
Anustup

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Duncan Fraser said...

To Anustup:

Doctor Johnson in his dictionary, defined Oats as
'a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.'

Which, of course is why in England there are such fine horses.

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