Acrylics by Candia Dixon-Stuart
You, the favourite bloom of St Moluag
(he who pipped Columba to Lismore’s shore)
who ranged Rosemarkie’s red promontory,
seeking his personal white martyrdom.
At your petals’ tip is a nectar drip:
a signal for the reapers to begin.
Once, you colonised Apollo’s fair lands,
but made fresh conquest from Elysium,
establishing yourself in this terrain;
settling in the Land of Picts, as Bog Star:
light in the darkness of Dalriada.
Your chalice-shaped flowers, honey-fragrant,
scent craggy coastlines, where soft haar descends.
You feistily commune with sharp night frosts.
Your subtle venation reminded saints
of Christ’s stripes, or of their green island home;
Moluag preferred your stamens
to the crowns of all those cremated kings
whose smoke ascended from The Hill of Fire.
Sun of Lismore in Alba; Shining One:
he was determined to take root, like you.
You were transplanted; he was translated.
You were pervasive as that white hot faith.
Until today, I’d never heard of you,
but now I seem to see you everywhere.
John Donne’s monument in St Paul’s Cathedral ( in his shroud)
Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward
William Dunbar 15th century Scottish poet.
Photo by Stephen C Dickson (Wikimedia)
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
To God be humble,
to thy friend be kind
and with thy neighbour, gladly lend and borrow;
his chance tonight,
it may be thine tomorrow.
Primitive I ate my fill of a whale that died And stranded after a month at sea. . . . There is a pain in my inside. Why have the Gods afflicted me? Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith! Wow! I am sick till I cannot see! What is the sense of Religion and Faith : Look how the Gods have afflicted me! Pagan How can the skin of rat or mouse hold Anything more than a harmless flea?. . . The burning plague has taken my household. Why have my Gods afflicted me? All my kith and kin are deceased, Though they were as good as good could be, I will out and batter the family priest, Because my Gods have afflicted me!
Medi/Eval My privy and well drain into each other After the custom of Christendie. . . . Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother. Why has the Lord afflicted me? The Saints are helpless for all I offer-- So are the clergy I used to fee. Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer, Because the Lord has afflicted me. Material I run eight hundred hens to the acre They die by dozens mysteriously. . . . I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker, Why has the Lord afflicted me? What a return for all my endeavour-- Not to mention the L. S. D! I am an atheist now and for ever, Because this God has afflicted me!
Progressive Money spent on an Army or Fleet Is homicidal lunacy. . . . My son has been killed in the Mons retreat, Why is the Lord afflicting me? Why are murder, pillage and arson And rape allowed by the Deity? I will write to the Times, deriding our parson Because my God has afflicted me. Chorus We had a kettle: we let it leak: Our not repairing it made it worse. We haven't had any tea for a week. . . The bottom is out of the Universe!
Conclusion This was none of the good Lord's pleasure, For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free; But what comes after is measure for measure, And not a God that afflicteth thee. As was the sowing so the reaping Is now and evermore shall be. Thou art delivered to thine own keeping. Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!