By the graveyard, Luskentyre by Norman MacCaig (Scottish, 1910-1996)
From behind the wall death sends out messages
That all mean the same, that are easy to understand.
But who can interpret the blue-green waves
That never stop talking, shouting, wheedling?
Messages everywhere. Scholars, I plead with you,
Where are your dictionaries of the wind, the grasses?
Four larks are singing in a showering sprinkle
Their bright testaments: in a foreign language.
And always the beach is oghamed and cunieformed
By knot and dunlin and country-dancing sandpipers.
– There’s Donnie’s lugsail. He’s off to the lobsters.
The mast tilts to the north, the boat sails west.
A dictionary of him? – Can you imagine it? –
A volume thick as the height of the Clisham,
A volume big as the whole of Harris,
A volume beyond the wit of scholars.
This poem was chosen by Notting Hill poet and founder of Pass on a Poem, Frances Stadlen. www.passonapoem.com