Tag Archives: atlantic

A Tale of Two Islands

You, in your corner of Antrim, where your sea jewel emerald, a giant heaved up a causeway in

a story black as basalt, hexagonal to crystalise wrath from ocean;

and yet too short to reach my shore. He never thought of a land bridge, since you fret at

Carrick-a-Reede,

planks and ropes, in suspension between two cliffs, where fulmars glide, cackle with pride – in that Northern Irish accent…

You should be dreaming in Glasgow.

Broch making in Hoswick

Here, we build brochs as watch towers from rounded stones to eye each movement from the sea.

Da Roost has declared us landlocked.

I made a fresh pot of veg soup with enough carrots, leek and kale; freed my coatrack from winter tales And polished taps to revive chrome…

A full spring clean I call redd-up.

I count minutes between two gusts, knot for windspeed around headlands where lights still blink and

refract hope…

Instead our world’s tied to bollards, silenced and still; locked inside docks, behind closed doors,

I too wish to forward the clock;

watch you sail past my island shore, as the sun rises in your eyes… Watch you glide across the pressgang, long corrugated corridor that reunites our words and smiles,

Instead, I listen to the wind…

What a start to the new decade, April and voar. Somebody unleashed a devil, a terrorist invisible that sweeps and snatches blindfolded…

And pray it spares you in Belfast.

© Nat Hall 2020

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Cacophonous

Cirrus clouds above our land

In this world silenced by a terrorist disease, skylarks still sing above an early April hissing gale.

In this part of the main island, where Sandness looks lost inside haze, tussock grass yields, yet those birds we call laverick have returned as lairds o’da braes – elevated above da tun an da scattald (human dwellings and open fields where grazing’s shared among crofters…).

Deserted world except for birds…

They will defy the harshest gust, ignore that brutal tongue from gales to sing to blueness and the sun.

To each passing of cirrus clouds, they do not know the world’s locked down, as they ascend among ravens, oblivious to material us.

They have returned in their hundreds to the daresay of each hillside.

On this Monday lost in April, this sky has turned cacophonous, as hillsides home song of skylarks, that dare to ignore gusts from gales…

And us, below, slaved to silence.

© Nat Hall 2020

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So

What happens between equinoxes remains a mystery.

…A black hole or stravaig in a desert where time locks itself in, as bubbles inside surf, or footprints lost through tides and gales.

Many walks done and gone. I still remember the Vernal Equinox, as March gave way to light and warmth. When birds returned to the island, and jenny wrens perched on roses to sing their songs, joined by blackbirds at dawn and dusk. A song so powerful, explosive and whimsical, you need to turn back and listen.

And as May comes with its unbound clemence, and shiny bright, stars vanish in the blue of night, as Beltane gives way to summer.

Summer, summer, da Simmer Dim, as our sky turns an opera house. Our island sings in tussock grass, around the bays – above our heads. It is a time filed with bounty, as our summer guests fish and hunt. A time where life fills with colours, where chicks grow feathers outwith dark. Darkness unknown to so many of us and fledlings until Arcturus reappears in late July. Our Atlantic and sense of North glow back orange. We then reignite our candles. In this mystical universe, the very few urban dwellers welcome July with refracting light in the bay. They do not question the great clock – the astronomical delight as da mirkin wins back its way. mirkin, murky times lie ahead…

Some walk through time on land, at sea.

As August wanes in honey gold, our most westerly land beacon feels a poltergheist at sunset. Foula, foul, fugl Island, with its bewildering cliff tops, redefines ife, geometry. Light as we knew from Simmer Dim – our nightless nights – lose in power, intensity. Our path to hairst and the autumnal equinox becomes clearer.

It is when night unveils its kaleidoscope of gales and stars. And we look more carefully, auroral glows in between clouds. Our pace hastens as we go home to the fire back in our hearths. Too soon the tides will speak out loud, and auroras trapped inside clouds will signal a new phase across the season. Few gannets fly, fish in the bay. Rose flowers gave way to their own fuits. The overgrowth lost its lushness… A lower sun shines through few leaves from alders or strong willows. That sense of blue tarnished with grey has lost its way. Deep purple hills back to bracken, bare and so brown.

September stepped in as a thief. October followed in its grace. Each wake-up call from our bedside triggers the start of each sunrise. Each minute lost now and regained, days have shortened and yet, still bright. I hear Sawhain’s still a long shot… Our winged friends wander south and south. For us, dwellers of thre island, we need to prepare for dark times.

Now, the island can sleep in peace, with auroras, constellations, stars and comets – a twany moon there as a friend.

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In memoriam #14-18now (2) 

War Flowers, penned shortly before #armistice100 and recorded at my favourite beach, before reading the entirely string of verse dedicated to #armistice2000 #LestWeForget #onnevousoubliepas 

​  
With gracious thanks to Lisa and Dereck for that moment. 


And with gracious thanks to Gail and Keirynn for your renewed homing my work and image. 

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worldwide

Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.

Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.

“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…

compass-head-book-cover From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!

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in my own words…

 I write because I have things to say. When I don’t, I listen to the world – the wind, the ocean, birds and auroras – and I look up to the stars. The onpaper-and-wordse who stops looking at them forgets. The one who keeps looking at the stars will find his/her footprints in he snow. I live on an extraordinary island that feeds my spirit and imagination. Come and discover my journey, as I have lived my life with a compass in my head.

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Five Photos, Five Stories – Day 3

Let me take you to the edge of a dormant volcano tonight.

  
You need to perch right on its edge to take that pic; it is iconic and always gives the wow effect… 

Now, to the accompanying words

Eshaness –

torn kelp,

coastline, where Atlantic ebbs & lashes,

unleashes wrath against your craigs, cliffs & great geos –

where clouds bypass

granite & teeth of

the dragon,

home for the maverick kittiwake,

ruffled gannet in need of

food…

Let me show you

edge & meaning of the dormant volcano,

le va-et-vient de l’Atlantique.

 #geopoetics #60N 

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passage


That bridge of sand at St Ninian knows so many prints of our feet. Human or not, we tread its length in and out, trace & retrace like sand weavers…

The other day, I took a friend after lunchtime. The sky was right, and we fancied to share our marks with sand and shells, light… Atlantic. 

So we walked it, came heart to heart with waterline… Reflected with clouds in mirror – smiled at the sun & sea of jade.

And if we felt alone on this vast expanse of freedom, our journey back to the mainland was crowned with a fabulous encounter in the form of two Arctic Skuas that came to add their prints to ours. My friend spotted them first from the distance. She knew my heart would pounce, and lens would wish to immortalise them. So I approached them with caution, and deep respect.


What a moment. Eye to eye with their majesty – heart to heart with our world. Such earthly encounter.

Their tolerance allowed a couple of shots before they decided to leave the sand for a moment… At every opportunity, such meeting feels a privilege, so natural and whimsical.


I still feel grateful to my friend for pointing me out to such moment.

And as we continued to imprint that fabulous sand bar, other wings on passage ennobled our afternoon, in the form of our swallows of the sea, locally known as tirricks, or Arctic Terns, those phenomenal travellers that come to grace our skies every summer. 

How I love this point of passage.

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life

19 April, on a headland sang by a bard named Stevenson – raw, gripping from the edge of a cliff before sunset…

So far away from an aseptic world. Moment of truth before our star 🙂 

   
       

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smuha 

There’s a tremor in the island.

A she-jarl emerged off a long line of masculine “tradition” of guizer jarls… She made headlines in newspapers, and I hear even in London.

She made us dream last Friday night.



Here, to celebrate such event, a humble triptych of poetry.

SMUHA 2015

For Lesley S., first ever woman jarl in Shetland history.

Acrostic

Skeo Clett,

Music inside sand,

Undo twilight to let us sing,

Hold torches high for a galley & a woman,

Aud, unafraid of world’s fire.

—-

Free Style

By the Atlantic we gathered,

blue-eyed dragon looked to Venus

inside a night fit for

a realm, where

folk marched 

as one with

fire,

down to

the edge of

shells and sand, to

celebrate Aud The Minded

who captained her boat

till its end –

brandished her axe

before our world,

stars 

assembled 

inside a

sky

fit for 

a Jarl & her

people.

—–

Avant-garde

Sleep

in 

the 

arms of the

dragon, by Skeo Clett, 

wild Atlantic, where stars gather

above our heads, home of 

the human fire snake

that comes to die

in boat’s belly –

woman,

child, 

man 

march

by your side, 

through day and

night around da Ness,

fire unites kindred

spirits, fills cups

with mead

after

twilight,

animates hearts

till final reel.

Now

you have

stood among its flames,

led your own crowd

to edge of waves,

and sang the

song of

the

Norseman, 

wake 

in the arms of the dragon.



Notes:

SMUHA is Shetland’s South Mainland Fire Festival, held annually South of Lerwick.

A “jarl” is a viking chief.

“Skeo Clett” is the name of the rocky feature on the northern side of St Ninian’s tombolo (sandbar that links the Isle of Saint Ninian to the mainland). 

A “galley” is a viking longship. 

“da Ness” is the way folk call the Parish of Dunrossness (the southern part of Shetland’s main island, itself known as “South Mainland”)

© Nat Hall 2015

Programme image courtesy of smuha.org where more information can be found 🙂 

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