Time alone separates the dull red
granite of these cliffs and the red
clay in the kirkyard yonder.
As I stand on this grey day
with scarce a breath to sunder
the wetness of air and sea,
let my living and my dead
surround me. Let them say
who carried the sea upon his back,
what fish sucked the marrow from whose bones,
drifting like the untidy sea-wrack,
whose blood seeps now to colour the clay
of the ploughed field and the crimson cliff.
I would have written an epitaph
to please them and to honour the good,
the mortal drudgery, the valour
that lie now beneath the cold wet gravestones.
But the whistling peewit mocks my mood.
And anyway they would not have understood.