Saturday, June 22, 2013

Poem Of The Week - Alexander Gray

My sister Mairi has started a blog, you should go read her because she writes really well. One of her posts "Farewell Scotland, Hola Spain" had a snippet of poetry by Alexander Gray which if she hadn't told me was by a Scottish poet I might easily have sworn it was Australian so much it took me to my own experiences of Western Australia. It reminds me of a favourite quote by Henry Lawson

I'm Australian, I know no other land. -Henry Lawson

I've highlighted the snippet, below but the whole poem is worth reading and re-reading.

Scotland

Here in the Uplands
The soil is ungrateful;
The fields, red with sorrel,
Are stony and bare.
A few trees, wind-twisted –
Or are they but bushes? –
Stand stubbornly guarding
A home here and there.

Scooped out like a saucer,
The land lies before me;
The waters, once scattered,
Flow orderly now
Through fields where the ghosts
Of the marsh and the moorland
Still ride the old marches,
Despising the plough.

The marsh and the moorland
Are not to be banished;
The bracken and heather,
The glory of broom,
Usurp all the balks
And the fields’ broken fringes,
And claim from the sower
Their portion of room.

This is my country,
The land that begat me.
These windy spaces
Are surely my own.
And those who here toil
In the sweat of their faces
Are flesh of my flesh,
And bone of my bone.


Hard is the day’s task –
Scotland, stern Mother –
Wherewith at all times
Thy sons have been faced:
Labour by day,
And scant rest in the gloaming,
With Want an attendant,
Not lightly outpaced.

Yet do thy children
Honour and love thee.
Harsh is thy schooling,
Yet great is the gain:
True hearts and strong limbs,
The beauty of faces,
Kissed by the wind
And caressed by the rain.

Sir Alexander Gray
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