Sunday, October 01, 2006

Poetry Sunday- 'Aunt Julia'

This morning before it got light, the rain was rapping against the bedroom window panes and wrapped up under the duvet the room felt cosy and lit only by a beside lamp I picked up an old poetry book, filled with lots of different poems. I read, ‘Aunt Julia’ and so enjoyed it ; unaware at the time that it was one of Norman MacCaigs poems. He is a much-loved poet here in Scotland. His works are taught in mainstream schools so most of us grow up knowing quite a few of his works. At school l remember reading ‘Assisi’, ‘Visiting Hour’, etc and my older two children have also brought home his work for their studies. His poetry brings places and people to life in a simple form- as only a craftsman can. With his strong strokes and bold imagery he makes his work accessible – here poetry written about ordinary people – for ordinary people.
It made me think of my ancestors who lived up north. l imagined myself watching Aunt Julia and enjoyed the lively comparisons with buckets of water, and stormy winds!
Here is the poem below. Can you see her?

Aunt Julia

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
I could not answer her —
I could not understand her.

She wore men's boots
when she wore any.
— I can see her strong foot,
stained with peat,
paddling with the treadle of the spinningwheel
while her right hand drew yarn
marvellously out of the air.

Hers was the only house
where I've lain at night
in a box bed, listening to
crickets being friendly.

She was buckets
and water flouncing into them.
She was winds pouring wetly
round house-ends.
She was brown eggs, black skirts
and a keeper of threepennybits
in a teapot.

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
By the time I had learned
a little, she lay
silenced in the absolute black
of a sandy grave
at Luskentyre.
But I hear her still, welcoming me
with a seagull's voice
across a hundred yards
of peatscrapes and lazybeds
and getting angry, getting angry
with so many questions
unanswered.

51 comments:

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Sue said...

Loved this poem! Very easy to visualize "Aunt Julia" at her spinning wheel!!
xo

Sigrun said...

Horizon, I have read the poem and I hope I have understand him. I do not know this poet, I only know the poems of Robert Burns.

Sigrun

Val said...

Hallo, Ive come to your blog via various others - A growing delight and colours of the garden to name a couple. Would that be MacCaig of MacCaig's Tower above Oban, that I see whenever I make the journey from Dorset to Iona?

Really enjoying your blog. Thank you.

Hliza said...

This is indeed a very nice poem, Horizon. I can picture her with the harshness of those days and the unique things about her. Thanks for sharing!

slap me happy said...

Seems we are both in the poetry mode at the moment , I have done one for you, if you get the chance to pop into my blog again you'll see it sis.
xx

Connie and Rob said...

The poem caught my eye right away because my mother's name was Julia. I have always loved that name. Thanks for sharing.

Take care,
Connie

Tammy said...

very nice poetry!!
I loved this post!!
:-D

PEA said...

The poem is certainly very beautiful and written in such a way you can see Julia in your mind so clearly!! Hope your Sunday was a good one:-) Hugs xoxo

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

That was a lovely poem and easy to visualize Aunt Julie.
Hope your day turned out sunny.

Sigrun said...

Hi Horizon, thank you for your wonderful poem. I've answered at the blog.
You put in Geranium? It is winterhardy. I think you mean Pelargonium?

Sigrun

UKBob said...

I just found your blog but almost wish I hadn't cos it makes me wish I was on holiday. It also reminds me of nights spent in bothies listening to the rain beating on the old tin roof. I will be popping back to your blog for more torture for sure.

Kerri said...

Aunt Julie sounds like a strong character and Norman MacCaig has depicted her very clearly. Yes, I can see her :)
Reading poetry snuggled up under the covers, with the rain rapping on the window pane sounds like a wonderful way to pass the time. So cozy :)
Wishing you a blessings dear friend.

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