View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Thursday 11 October

An early morning flash of inspiration brought about the sixteen lines in the previous entry. It is inspired by the Iolaire Disaster of 1919, a seminal event in the history of the Isle of Lewis, and one that continues to haunt the islanders - and me. The day was wet and grey, in local parlance it was 'dreich'. I don't know how much rain fell, but it was at any rate not really warm - 10C / 50F. More rain is forecast, and particularly the western mainland is very wet today.

In two years time, it will be 100 years since the First World War broke out. The UK government has allocated £50 million to commemorate the event, including a major upgrade to the Imperial War Museum. I hope that the money will also go towards refurbishing things like war memorials (there are several in Lewis that need some TLC). Wargraves are in the continuous care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In my own way, I'm trying to make a small contribution - have a look here Lewismen lost in the Great War. 



Frantic beat the hooves down the road to the coast
Low sweeps the beam of the lighthouse over the waves
High rises the swell to crash on the beasts
Not lit, not shown up, lurking under sea

High fly the rockets but two hours past midnight
Hidden from view, beyond the glance of the prism
Mistaken for feasting, but no less the opposite
There's only one rope and too many waves

Boyling on the rocks, beyond the reach of succour
Carried ashore, but bereft of all life
Spared years of carnage, taken at the step of the year
Dawn breaks cold and cruel, one up the mast

Lived at the shore, returned on the strand
Returned in death to the isle of their birth
The teapot stands cold, the bed unslept in
Two hundred and five, sixty not found.

First published on my Facebook account