Love Sonnet LXXII

Love Sonnet LXXII
Pablo Neruda, Amor mio, el invierno regresa a sus cuarteles…

My luve, winter merches back tae barracks,
earth sets doon its yalla gifts,
an rinnin oor hauns ower faur-aff lands, 
we feel the globe's saft pelt.

Gang aff! Awa this verra day! Wheels an boats an bells, 
planes made scherp by endless licht o day
intil lang-grained ears o hervest
towards the islands' waddin fragrance.

C'moan, up ye get an fix yir hair, 
take-aff an landin, rin wi the air an sing wi me,
board the trains tae Arabia or Kyle,

nocht but a ferry tae the distant pollened shore, 
hert-piercin touns o puirtith an gardenias
rewled by raggedy barefit queens.
Alan MacGillivray

from An Altitude Within (Glasgow: Kennedy and Boyd, 2010)

Reproduced by permission of the publisher.
Alan MacGillivray

Alan MacGillivray specialised in the teaching of Scottish literature and is a Past President of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies; he was winner of the McCash Scots Poetry Prize in 2005, and he has published four poetry collections. 


Read more about this poet
About Love Sonnet LXXII

This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2010. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2010 was Jen Hadfield.

Editor's comment: 
There's a word for this mood in Shetland: filskit – what ponies are when they canter wildly about the hill in a gaggle, galvanised by a smell in the wind or perhaps just because they can run. Or when there comes that morning which cannot be imagined in the wintertime, when the frail heat in sunlight first makes it all the way down to my concrete doorstep, so that I carry out my first cup of tea and sit barefoot and bedazzled. The air is impossibly sweet, and the starlings wheeze and whistle in Mary's willows, and the inlet below burns itself to a crisp with sunlight and can't be looked at. Squinting and dreaming and drinking rapidly cooling tea. Such an appetite… such levity… such urgency…

Author's note:
'Love Sonnet LXXII' is from the sequence Cien Sonetos de Amor (100 Love Sonnets), by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.  The collection, first published in 1960 and dedicated to his wife, Matilde Urrutia, comprises poems of fourteen lines, which yet have few of the characteristic features of the sonnet form.  In fact, Neruda calls them 'these badly-named sonnets' ('estos mal llamados sonetos') and says that he made them with great humility out of wood, giving them the sound of that opaque pure substance.  Sonnet LXXII  (Amor mio, el invierno regresa a sus cuarteles…) begins with the image of winter returning to its confinement to be succeeded by a season of brightness and travel and companionable exploration.  I have chosen to use a literary Scots of the kind associated with the twentieth-century Scottish Renaissance, and have tried to give the poem a Scottish flavour by using Scottish references and place-names where Neruda has used Chilean ones.