Scotland Small?

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland _small_?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliche corner
To a fool who cries “Nothing but heather!” Where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing around
Sees not only heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet,
Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
In living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green and pink; sundew and butterwort
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them,
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour
“Nothing but heather!” — How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!


by Hugh McDiarmid (1892-1978)

4 Responses to “Scotland Small?”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    I knew two Scotsmen who knew Chris Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid’s real name) fairly well. Grieve was a Scottish nationalist and communist. One of these mutual acquaintances was a conservative ScotNat and thought that Grieve’s nationalism was the important thing; the other was a communist and (I think) a unionist, and believed his communism was the important thing. Too bad they didn’t know each other.

    I regret the low standard of debate in the run-up to today’s referendum in Scotland. This is an important day.

    • I agree about the low standard of debate. One exception is notable, which was Gordon Brown’s speech yesterday. I’ve never been a fan of Gordon Brown but I thought that speech was great.

      I have a couple of books of McDiarmid’s poetry; there is some good work in there, but they’re very uneven.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Oh, NO !

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