Monday, January 2, 2017

George Mackay Brown*

George Mackay Brown (1921—1996) is a Scottish poet and writer who was born in Stromness, Orkney, and lived there most of his life. Edwin Muir was a significant encourager of his poetry, writing an introduction to his first collection The Storm (1954), and helping him to get his second collection Loaves and Fishes (1959) published.

He received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1974. Brown's 1994 novel Beside the Ocean of Time was nominated for the Booker Prize, and was judged to be the Scottish Book of the Year by the Saltire Society. His Collected Poems appeared in 2005.

A Child's Calendar

No visitors in January
A snowman smokes a cold pipe in the yard.

They stand about like ancient women,
The February hills.
They have seen many a coming and going, the hills.

In March, Moorfea is littered
With knocked-kneed lambs.

Daffodils at the door in April,
Three shawled Marys.
A lark splurges in galilees of sky.

And in May
Peatmen strike the bog with spades,
Summoning black fire,

The June bee
Bumps in the pane with a heavy bag of plunder.

Strangers swarms in July
With cameras, binoculars, bird books.

He thumped the crag in August,
A blind blue whale.

September crofts get wrecked in blond surges.
They struggle, the harvesters,
They drag loaf and ale-kirn into winter.

In October the fishmonger
Argues, pleads, threatens at the shore.

Nothing in November
But tinkers at the door, keening with cans.

Some December midnight
Christ, lord, lie warm in our byre.
Here are stars, an ox, poverty enough.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about George Mackay Brown: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.