Seivin Verses for GMB

Seivin Verses for GMB
They are fermin the fower winds:			
Five grey- stemmed daffodils				
on the hill abuin Eynhallow				
that whirlmagig air intil pouer.			

Aa Simmerdim on Flotta –
a thrummlin column o virr:
the fleerin ee o Sauron lowps
and rages in its touer.

Fishermen wi  lap tops,
tractors steert by Sat Nav,
Progress chaps our door unbiddan
tae win us ower.

Sunlicht asklent a green wave
maun be wrocht as an equation:
the Physic mind is mappamouned
whaur aa is swack and sure.

The makar speirs the silence,
raiks the taigle o time-wrack
for signs and kennings, patterns
thrang in his hairst o hours.

The solar wind pents miracles
yet a muckler ane by faur,
we’re a mystery o pairticles
ablaw the cosmic glower.

For aye we’re raxin scaffolding
o sense on circled yirth
whiles Magnus sails his saundstane ark
abuin our clash and stouer.
William Hershaw

from Postcairds fae Woodwick Mill : Orkney poems in Scots  (Ochtertyre: Grace Note Publications, 2015)

Reproduced by permission of the author.
William Hershaw

William Hershaw is a poet, musician and songwriter and Principal Teacher of English at Beath High School, Cowdenbeath.


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About Seivin Verses for GMB

This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2015. 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 2015 was Ken MacLeod.

Editor's comment:

This tribute to the Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown balances technological and poetic responses, within each verse and in the poem as a whole. The scientist and the poet both see patterns, one mathematically and the other intuitively. The 'saundstane ark' of St Magnus Cathedral references one of George Mackay Brown's most memorable images. 

Author's note:

Physicists threip that nae information is tint ben the universe we belang tae. In Orkney ye maun see this for yersel. Aa the episodes o airthly and human time are speldert ower the islands, beaches and rocks afore yer een. George Mackay Brown is a makar I am lippent tae in mair weys than I can puit intil words. I jalouse he micht hae been a troubled saul himself, yet there is a philosophical comfort tae be taen fae his thochts anent oor peerie place attour the ocean o time. These verses are a tribute tae him and his norrae that we are aa o us makars, speirin at the silence. Seivin was a byordinair number for George and kittles in his ain verse in monie guises. Aiblins the story o Saint Magnus and his martyrdom is gey mair thrang, a myth o sel-sacrifice for the guid o the commonweal that kyths in ilka airt o his poetry.


whirlmagig: in this sense, rotates;  thrummlin:  trembling;  virr: strength; lowps: leaps; unbiddan: unasked; asklent: aslant; wrocht: fashioned; mappamouned: charted, mapped out; swack: sure footed; speirs: interrogates; raiks: searches among; taigle: tangle; thrang: busy; hairst:  harvest; ablaw: below; glower: glare; raxin: extending; yirth: earth.