Monday, 30 June 2008

Ceann Loch Aoineart

Cycling through Skye recently, we took the side loop to Moll. This is quieter and less hilly than the main road, and provides a great view into the head of Loch Ainort where the Red Cuillin and Blaven rise from the sea to their naked rocky tops. It is the correct spot to consider Ceann Loch Aoineart, one of my favourite of Sorley Maclean's poems:

Còmhlan bheanntan, stòiteachd bheanntan,
còrr-lios bheanntan fàsmhor,
cruinneachadh mhullaichean, thulaichean, shlèibhtean
tighinn sa bheucaich ghàbhaidh.

Even without understanding the original version, the alliterative sound rolls of the tongue. Sorley - who lived most of his life nearby at Raasay - was perhaps Britain's best poet of the 20th century. The reason he is unknown is simple - he wrote in Gaelic.

As far as I am aware, there are no memorials to Sorley, no plaques or public places where his poetry is enjoyed. I think this should be rectified. No better start could be made than to raise a modest cairn on the Moll road as Kinlochainort comes into view, with a brass plaque inserted declaiming his poem, Ceann Loch Aoineart:

A company of mountains, an upthrust of mountains
a great garth of growing mountains
a concourse of summits, of knolls, of hills
coming on with a fearsome roaring.

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