This is a poem that details the events that occured in Sutherland at the start of the 20th century. The subject is the village ruins, known as Baille na Seilg, or town of the hunt, in the area.
There’s a flower on Raghnaill Ban’s croft,
As there is on every house there, and the door,
Is blocked by the half of the rowan shaft,
That hangs its head in awe.
Of the crumbled masonry, the seaweed washed ashore,
That rims the island’s granite gunwales,
By the castle’s tumbling walls.
However, that flower was not there, as I recall,
And the rowan tree once stood by the sea,
Watching the roaring surf twist and hurl,
Its weight at stacks of peat.
For the vanished townships, the abandoned cleit,
That comes across the crimson foam,
At the chalk bastion’s feet.
There was a ship waiting, at the head of the bay,
Early on the morning of Martinmas,
As its bloated hull rode the spray,
Sunk in maternal bliss
For its golden treasure, people who would risk,
The ocean at the edge of the world,
For the distant isles of mist.
It came there once a year, to rest upon the sands,
And at that time the islanders shared their bounty,
With their imported English whisky, bland
As it would be,
As the taste of London cellars, tossed by the sea,
Has not the appeal of Highland hearth,
Brewed somewhere near Portree.
But the people of the village, in their poverty,
Waited for the ship’s brilliant surprise.
They were desperate in their misery,
And watched with eager eyes
The wind dance in silver skies,
Bringing with it the great square sails,
That rolled in on the tide.
Many years have passed, and there is no more song,
No more sailors waiting in the grass; their ship is gone.
There are no more stories of epic heroes, no tales,
And there is no longer the sound of the wind in its sails.
This was your home, but now it’s changed;
The sun shines on ruins, the floor is flooded with rain,
But we’ll never see the likes of you again.
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