It's National Poetry Day today, and this year's theme is Light.
I suppose when you study a poet at school you end up either loving or loathing their work. For me, with Norman MacCaig, it was the former. I fell in love with his writing and the pictures of Scotland - the places, the people, and the little things - which he creates with his words. The poem below is one of the three I studied for Higher English (along with Return to Scalpay, and In Praise of a Man), and is still one of my favourites. It also fits in nicely with the theme of National Poetry Day this year.
Notes on a Winter Journey, and a Footnote
The snow’s almost faultless. It bounces back
the sun’s light, but can do nothing with
those two stags, their cold noses, their yellow teeth.
Over the Loch’s eye a cataract is forming.
Fistfuls of white make the telephone wires
loop after loop of snow buntings.
So few cars they leave the snow snow.
I think of the horrible marzipan
in the streets of Edinburgh.
The hotel at Ullapool, that should be a bang of light
is crepuscular. The bar is fireflied
with whisky glasses
At Inchnadamph the snow is falling. The windscreen wipers
squeak and I stare through
a segment of a circle. What more do i ever do?…
(seventeen miles to go. I didn’t know it, but when
I got there a death waited for me – that segment
shut it’s fan: and a blinding winter closed in.)