Island Of Time In The Ocean Of Eternity

by Timothy Lusch

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.

And afterwards

Between a black cliff and the sea

A rosebush was planted.