14th November 2010 marked the centenary of the Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. I wanted to create a piece in the journal celebrating his life and work. I had taken his poem Harris, East side (1962) as a source of inspiration for my drawing. I wanted to capture the haunting, weather beaten landscape showing glimpses of human history. Like MacCaig, I much enjoy hill walking and have rambled over the heather and rocks of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. I love the scenery and light in Harris, for me, inspirations like this last more than a lifetime.
Harris, East side
Stones crowd and shine
As though a Christ preached, they his multitude.
(Weather’s their gospel, and they need no sign).
The narrow bay
Has a knuckle of houses and a nail of sand
By which the sea hangs grimly to the land.
A boat, deflowered
Of its brown sail, pokes its bald pistil up,
Fattening the seed of miles it has devoured
It rocks upon
The rocking world and sends its small waves back
Against the waves that turned its blue to black.
On a green sword
A woman stands knee deep in hens and from
A flashing pail scatters their peaceful Word.
Around alters hung
With holy weeds, ducks, as they skid and lurch,
Quack soft, like laymen working in a church.
And light bends down
In seeming benediction, though it comes
From where hail buds and vicious thunder drums.
Its storms lie round,
Already here where a roof shows its bones
Or where a child sits in a field of stones.
– Norman MacCaig –