Sunday, 16 October 2011

Alastair Mackie tweet poetry

Beautiful lines of Alastair Mackie (1925-95) who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Why is he barely in print now? He graduated from Aberdeen University after serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. He then taught English at Stromness Academy, before settling in Anstruther, Fife, where he taught at Waid Academy until his retirement in 1984. Compare Charles Causley... 
I'm richt glad the auld words still come back like migrant swallas black shears o the gloamin

The full poem...

Aiberdeen Street


Ye were hyne awa fae Nuremberg o the flags,
the death-crap o the purges; Il Duce's
black-sarked legions heistin eagles…
Woolie's guns and gairden canes airmed oor wars
focht on your cassies, oor granite battle-field.
Paper planes whitent the gloamin-faa,
earth-bund swallas the scaffies sweepit up.
And quines were bobbin corks aneth the tow brigs
o their skippin ropes. Cairt horses snochert
and the shod wheels girned and dirded.
Here in this play-grun atween the tenements
– sea gulls on the lums – I breathed in Scots.
Years later I howkit up the street's kist
o memories and found amon the mools, deid words,
the affcasts o history, teuch as granite setts,
the foonds o my world.


The navel-tow o the street,
I snippit ye lang syne for war, for college,
for a dominie's day darg…Your skirling lung
is quaiter nou, cloggit up wi metal.
(I mauna cuddle in the wyme o yesterdays.)
The granite tenements stand yet
faur streenger fowk bide nou. Windas like glowerers
gaup still on oor auld hoose,
the granite centenarian o the street.
The place is like a kirk-yaird.
Fae the dowier distances o middle age
aathing's smaaer than it used to be.
My father crines at the het cheek o the ingle,
and oot the winda, a tooer block
rents the air.
            Ower the chippit cassies
the tackety beets o deid louns thinly jow.


Nae McD's 'lang coffin o a street',
mair a village fit-path lined wi setts.
Streets at tap and boddom merked oor frontiers.
We spoke o girds, scuds, quines, bleedy doctors…
I'm richt glad the auld words still come back
like migrant swallas, black shears o the gloamin.
Marx we hadna heard o, only the Marx brithers.
This was oor grunwork, the hard pan o oor lives.
A sma bit street that hirpled doun a brae.
Whitever roads I took since then I
began wi workin fowk in granite tenements.
Aa the lave was superstructure.

More on Mackie here, source of text from Silver: An Aberdeen Anthology, edited by Alan Spence and Hazel Hutchison (Polygon, 2009) . And thanks to Pantufla for the image

No comments:

Post a Comment