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Frescoes in Anatolia by Hamish MacDonald

19th October 2015

It is great to have a poem this month from Hamish MacDonald,  the inaugural Scriever for the Scots Language, who has recently taken up his post at the National Library of Scotland. 

The beauty of this poem Frescoes in Anatolia is that it does not stay parochial. Scots as a full language can be used for any subject matter. Scots can be as serious as you wish it to be. Scots can range over other cultures and history. Scots does not have to be linked to Glasgow on a Friday night or any such perception of limitations.

Frescoes in Anatolia is a poem with punch, a sense of history, and strong structure. It takes us from the observation of ancient paintings and their old sense of law to the modern world, where the situation is not necessarily different and we may still prefer blindness to the truth. It is unflinching.
I believe this poem  from the official Scriever, will give heart to other Scots poets and encourage them to keep on writing.

Frescoes in Anatolia by Hamish MacDonald

Whaur the silk road wynds
in a low o lamp ile
the Saviour an the Virgin
remain wae scaured oot een

Frae the faur airts o Byzantium they came
tender straiks o pigment on saft stane caves
the Ascension in indigos an gowds

Tae be whummelt bi a new faith an law
that sooped ower a parched land
an ee for an ee translated easily frae verse tae verse

Just as the Christian invader gouged oot the een o Horus an Ra
or Ezhov had the poets eye punched out
as he squirmed in the interrogation chair

And Mengele who collected those of his victims
in that horrific vault o blinness an daith

as we scrape oot oor ain een
cloakin oorsels in fictions tae blur the awful truth