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Old Galloway's Mull ©

Jim Hogg
Renfrew, Scotland
2007

A roaring white river rears and plunges
From black and gold cliffs it curves to the west.
Cormorants doze where the hungry sea surges;
On ledges above, timid guillemots nest.

Old Galloway's Mull juts eastward with pride
Like the fist on the end of a forearm.
It punches across the south sweeping tide,
Its white scanning beam standing guard against harm.

Way off to the north lies endless white sand,
And eastwards the rocks of the Gannets scaur;
To the south stands the ancient Calf of Man,
By its elbow the kingdom of Erin go bragh

Great funnelled caves tunnelled into the headland
By titanic seas over millions of years,
Sheltered the smugglers who struggled to land,
While the customs men waited to snaffle their gear.

Her pages are dense with yarns of disaster,
Shipwrecks and rescues, and fishermen's tales;
While high on the moors the fox and the badger
Rule under the blue where the raven prevails.

And shielded by heather, the primrose
outwits the brisk winds that carry the wings
of the linnet, skylark, twite, and their foes,
round the high verge where the campion clings

Most of my life I've plundered her deeps
Beneath swarming seabirds who'd circle and dive;
The last man alive to fish round her with sweeps,
Working by hand, hauling creels to get by.

Glutting on freedom I'd push every border
'Til bloated with Nature I'd leave her again,
To don the chains and boredom of order
Too far from the arms of her heaving domain:

The foaming embrace that threatens the fools,
The rabble of rocks that hassle the careless,
The mackerel beneath the ebb's swirling pools
The roar of the race over Carrickcailness

The fulmars skimming the face of the cliff
The crying of gulls in the mouths of her caves
Clusters of puffins that swivel and swim
All lodged in the hearts bewitched by her waves

From near and afar they're drawn by her spell
To taste her repose or to peer into hell
Or gaze on the hunters tracing below
The trail of the whispers of freedom



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