Fragmented Images of the White Loch, Castle Kennedy: ©
Patrick Scott Hogg
(Written for James Hogg, brother and friend)
When the sense of longing comes too strong to resist
Where e'er I am or have ever been
No matter who or when
The huge beach tree we used to swing from
Comes to view
And the apples still thunder to the ground;
It's blackberry picking time once more -
Along the railway line embankment
By the deep forbidden loch that knows no bottom
Where the fields of corn wave hypnotic in the breeze
And consumed, these senses charge my veins
In memory, like the wild wind calls its echoes home
When my spirit wings homeward, stirs
And views the scenes I knew so well:
Down the winding road and o'er the ridge
To view the panoramic loch in stillness wrapped
(That view was the wildest joy I ever knew):
Silent and mirroring the sky and racing clouds
That darken and shade the greeny water by;
Where the brown burn
In flood, 'mid a rainy gale,
Tumbles its way to the wider waters
A trapped soul, never to its sea
Yet that is not the fate of you or me.....
There I've watched the fast-weaving wood-pigeon in flight
Swish o'er bush and brier, thru
A grand firm mesh of protruding tree branches
Safe and keen;
Proud meteor of the woodland sky.
There, where my father's footsteps echo every glen
And his forebears, of Etterick born,
Looked down across the forests green to the trout-filled lochs
And scanned westward to the open seas;
It's there I've seen the pheasant rise
Raucous, on startled wing
High o'er jaded, yet golden yellow bracken,
And then the wild-wood dale, soaring,
Where sweet-noted woodlarks sing;
And tramped the country ever round
With a pocket full of spiked conifer cones, singing,
With a tale-wagging Labrador, sniffing
Every bush and covet, never still
Never un-free and chained -
Nature has no masters - a maxim pure.
I've watched the bats scurryin'
Swoopin' thru the thick night
Skimming o'er dark blue-black waters
Vibrating sonar, like bullets rivetting thru the night,
As moths and dragonfly dance,
Where the new moon hangs, high o'er the old castle, silhouetted
Glistening on the silvery, mercurial loch
A bright, shimmering reflection -
Where a silent swan hides her young in the shadow -
There I was a child-fisherman
Rod in hand, excited, waiting for the float to dive
Or wildly bob and move as a fish took the worm ...
All to the darkness wrapped, shivering
Embraced in the quiet murmur of the creature stirred night.
I've seen the auld grey bearded badger
Nose-peering at dusk
Timidly watching and twice sniffing the air
As he welcomes night's returning balm
To retreat, deep in his layer, scurrying
From the soil shaking tremors
Of guns walking by
And, being from country stock,
I was once of that number!
So devoted to and a lover of Nature
That I could ever be its devoted executioner!
Yet deep love flows thru the veins
Glistening in the eyes of a child
Wild excitement untamed - a jar-trapped bee:
Watch him go, zig-zagging away
Buzzing dementedly in his mad cell of glass...
'Busy buzzing bee, I will set you free!'
Then off, in frenzied freedom to the blue sky arena, winding
Never to be seen or heard again.
I swoon 'mid the bluebells aroma, forever elate
Soaked in the earth's musky grandeur
Chasing a butterfly's fragrant tender wing -
A junky of unconscious woodland soaked smells
Of Autumn's gold decay and Spring's effervescent regeneration
Hope's eternal wing and returning joy;
Often lost in the crowded days
To the tree sap, peat and O the scent of honeysuckle!
O that those who have called me 'Dreamer' could know:
These - all of Nature's charms - were the lovers of my insatiate youth!
I've watched a dog fox tease a rabbit;
I've stood in awe as silly crows
Crowded, almost prescient, swirl high before the storm -
I've picked a bright yellow daffodil, deep with its water-soaked stem
And a bunch of wild aromatic bluebells
Who stir me still, even now, to be that lost bluebell kid
Running where the perfumed air
Drowns the senses in the sun's heat
Where the foxglove bends to the soft breeze blowing
And peaceful harmony sings its silent triumph
Through the wood boughs, forever young and dancing!
In these scenes and moments
Distilled, in the kiln of Nature's raw heart
Are the emotions, fallen and uprising,
Like the waves upon the shore of life's vast ocean
When humanity awakes!
When the miracle of each moment is lost ere we grasp it
When the eyes of a child open
Never close, no matter what dreams may come
And even hoary grey and furrowed age-lines
Cannot erase the deepest sigh and wonder:
Yet all expires with the leaf and sap
To the warm embrace of Nature's arms:
Beauty is transient, as love is brief.
O let me be buried there, forever at peace,
'Mid the places I loved when my spirit was young.
If, in all this, there is a light to shed
On the vagaries of life's paths and the decisions we must take
It is this and this alone:
Take your children from the cities.
Take them from vitality killing screens ...
Take them from monotone and grey...
Take them from the dance of greed's brainwashing
Take them from status' badges and illusions
And cast their nets of imagination in the country,
Or by the sea, before it is too late:
Let them run free in country places
In the dark shadow of the woodland flowers
Where the shafts of light steel down like golden spears
Where Time never chases those moments that bend
Between waking and the call of dreams
For these days that never close
Where the stars twinkle high and the lochs are mysterious
Where their suppressed heart of humanity awakens, anew,
And let the spirit of Nature, that reigns in glory, come to them
To be always and forevermore
A light within that washes away the darkness and renews the soul.