Skara Brae, by Orkney poet George Mackay Brown

Orkney poet George Mackay Brown

Skara Brae

by George Mackay Brown

Here in our village in the west
We are little regarded.

The lords of tilth and loch
Are Quarrying (we hear)
Great stones to make a stone circle

In the last of the snow
A great one died
In that stone hollow in the east.
A winter sunset
Will touch his mouth. He carries
A cairngorm on his cold finger
To the country of the dead.

They come here from Birsay
To take our fish for taxes. Otherwise
We are left in peace
With our small fires and pots.

Will it be a morning for fishermen?
The sun died in red flames
Then the night swarmed with stars, like fish.

The sea gives and takes. The sea
Devoured four houses one winter.

Ask the old one to make a clay lamp
The ripening sun
May be pleased with the small flame, at-plough-time.

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