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Loch Enoch by Margaret Gillies Brown

16th January 2017


Another poem from Perthshire poet Margaret Gillies Brown, from her new diehard book Ilka Spring. Margaret is now in her late eighties and has been writing and publishing poems in Scots since the 1960s a noteworthy record. Her family farms in the Carse of Dundee and her parents were from Aberdeen, and her Scots is authentic to the country communities around Dundee. 

Loch Enoch describes three attempts to walk to the loch through rough country, in different weathers and circumstances. It is infused with Margaret Gillies Browns quiet but incisive observation and humour. In passing she gives a history and description of the loch and its situation. 

One of the important Scots voices of the last century and into this one, Margaret Gilllies Brown should not be underestimated because she is modest and a woman. Over the years she has taken part in poetry events and gatherings in Perth and Dundee, St Andrews, Edinburgh and further afield. She has hosted Stovies Nights for writers groups from Perth, Dundee and Falkirk for many years. She has spent time in Canada, and recently moved into a log cabin on her familys farm estate. The cover of her book (see photo) shows her log cabin among the elder bushes grown for making wine. 

Loch Enoch 

You`re a sair trachle tae get till:
a hidden jewel in the hills
for mostly God an the Merrick tae peer at.
In the sun, they say, a loch o
water diamonds set in siller sand:
by moon licht a milk-white sheen
pale as river pearls.
You can be cruel:
lang ago a plane cam
doon in your cald water.
Whit chance?
still shards o metal rustin.

Three times we strove tae reach ye.
First time the day was hot, hot
and the beasties in boggy grund
attacking ankles an bitin badly.
Half way we turned
fund a burn tumbling oot o rock
and steeped oor feet
in rushin mountain water.
Sic bliss!

Second attempt , summer again
but this time cald as a winters day
wi a continual on-ding o rain.
Fred`s specks fairly streamed wi water:
Makin him blin,
again we turned.

Third time,
cald but wi only a smirr o rain,
we followed the tumblin dyke
hirplin ower the hill
Wed mony a diversion
for bog an muckle boulder.
Five miles, they told us
mair like fifty!

This time we didna halt
The prize
reaching yer dour grey, sunless face
A jar o siller sand.

Margaret Gillies Brown