Wandering In Place
Travellers by George Mackay Brown
George Mackay Brown (1921-1996), poet, playwright, essayist, and novelist was a native and lifelong resident of the Orkney Islands. He experienced poverty at a young age, endured loneliness and depression, and bore Orcadian isolation with serenity (and a few pints). Brown’s oeuvre is substantial. Not merely by the number of works, but by their durability. His creative force was bound up in the rhythm of the Orkneys. His poetry is spare, minimal, and elemental. Because Brown dug so deep in one place, without the overlay of much of life’s finery, he was able to reveal all of life in its most basic, primal truth. Simplicity sustains his poems, but the complexity of all humanity is here. His grave stone reads :
Carve the runes
Then be content with silence.
In Memoriam John L. Broom
(July 28 1992)
In sorrow the bread and salt are eaten.
From first cry to last sinking under wounds like a hunted
The circuit is sorrowful.
The man who owns veins of gold
No different from the eater of crusts.
The feast and the dance
Are more beautiful
For that road of thorns and stones.
Somewhere, to all men and women
The summons is coming to a feast, with music and the
only bread and wine.
-It is a furrow you follow.
Yesterday we gave the dust of a friend to the wind.
Between a black cliff and the sea
A rosebush was planted.