Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Listening to: Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes)

I'm grateful to Yorkshire Pudding for reminding me of this poem by the great Seamus Heaney. It wasn't written about Westray, but it could have been.

Storm on the Island

We are prepared: we build our houses squat,
Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.
This wizened earth has never troubled us
With hay, so, as you see, there are no stacks
Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees
Which might prove company when it blows full
Blast: you know what I mean - leaves and branches
Can raise a tragic chorus in a gale
So that you listen to the thing you fear
Forgetting that it pummels your house too.
But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
You might think that the sea is company,
Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
The very windows, spits like a tame cat
Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo,
We are bombarded with the empty air.
Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.

Thanks to YP and, of course, to the poet himself.


I, Like The View said...

we just sit tight


(and applies to so many things in life!)


Yorkshire Pudding said...

I am blushing with embarrassment. I think Heaney wrote it about Tory Island off the north west coast of Ireland but it could so easily have been your island at this time of year and I am pleased that it struck a chord with you.

Sian said...

Yip - put it on my blog too. Thanks Yorkshire Pudding. Like your own poetry too. Very moving.

fiwa said...

I actually think it sounds thrilling. Of course, I'm sure I wouldn't feel that way if I were in the middle of it, over and over every winter...

Hunker down!