Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Impressions of Soirbheas

Thanks to swiss for tempting me with a couple of postings of poems by Meg Bateman I'm now the delightfully happy owner of her latest collection Soirbheas (Fair Wind).
Never more than now do I regret that my mother never taught me Gaelic (because my father can't speak it). These poems are at once image-packed, dreamy, personal, passionate, very highland Scottish with a sharp and modern edge but I'm left wondering what's been lost in translation.
I only bought the book this morning and couldn't put it down (much to my one year old's annoyance). The intensity and weaving of grand themes with commonplace imagery reminds me a little of Ahkmatova's early collections. Though where I feel a surreal edge is gained through the translation of Ahkmatova's works I have a niggling feeling that something is being lost in the translation of these poems. Anyhow these are just first impressions from a mad rush read through the book. I'm immensely proud of their highland and island Scottishness and imagery so familiar to me in poems so beautiful, passionate and well written (though I wasn't raised there I was born in Stornoway and spent every long summer of my childhood on Lewis).
This book of poems will be glued to my hands for the near future!


swiss said...

thought you'd like it!

you should be ableto find someto read it to you where you are as well, which'd be interesting, if onyl to hear the intended cadence and inflection

i think i'm more ambiguous about the gaelic and place elements of the poetry this week but explaining all of that would take waaaay too long (lived in stornoway, did the gaelic thing)but, even allowing for that personal bias i'm still away with the gentleness and he evocative nature of it all. if i read better this year i'll be very, very happy

if you want to follow a different strand or tradition of island poetry you should check out christine de luca's stuff. i'm not as fond of it but it's (like) the language i was raised in. plus, if you get a chance to see her you should as she's lovely.

of course there's always mackay brown but although he's far away from being a favourite, at least as regards poetry, i have no critical ability towards him because his words re always home

swiss said...
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Sorlil said...

wow, lovely, it reads like a dream, I esp love 'skeletons of urchins', thanks for sharing it.