15 October 2015

Poetry Thursday - The Creel by Kathleen Jamie

The Creel
The world began with a woman,
shawl-happed, stooped under a creel,
whose slow step you recognise
from troubled dreams. You feel
obliged to help bear her burden
from hill or kelp-strewn shore,
but she passes by unseeing
thirled to her private chore.
It’s not sea birds or peats she’s carrying,
not fleece, nor the herring bright
but her fear that if ever she put it down
the world would go out like a light.
(poem found here, photo (1955) found here; thirled means enslaved)

Scottish poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie was born in 1962, studied philosophy at Edinburgh University, and published her first poems as an undergraduate. Her writing is rooted in Scottish landscape and culture, but ranges through travel, women's issues, archaeology and visual art. She is Professor of Poetry at Stirling University and has won lots of awards.

Her book Findings is on my bedside shelf - lovely essays on the natural world. And here's an earlier essay of her midwinter visit to Orkney, specifically the neolithic burial chamber Maes Howe.

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