‘It moved and changed below you, but was forever’
Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?
False questions, for
the landscape is
and intractable in any terms
that are human.
from ‘A Man in Assynt’ by Norman MacCaig (1910-1996)
A county shaped like an amphitheatre. Bent like the crescent moon. The only Scottish shire with a face towards Ireland. My mind ran to the tops of the hills as the train moved on. Up go the eyes of the rabbits and owls. They peer from the uplands of Kyle and Cunninghame, and so do the eyes of the people in their high farms, who are mad for the sea, and who applaud the roar from their rocky seats, their island view from the upper tier. I felt them near to me. I felt their breaths at the window.
from Our Fathers by Andrew O’ Hagan
The time came when, thrilling as a pipe lament across the water, daylight announced it must go: there was a last blaze of light, an uncanny clarity, a splendour and a puissance; and then abdication began. Single stars appeared, glittering in a sky pale and austere. Dusk like a breathing drifted in among the trees and crept over the loch. Slowly the mottled yellow of the chestnuts, the bronze of beech, the saffron of birches, all the magnificent sombre harmonies of decay became indistinguishable. Owls hooted. A fox barked.
from The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins (1912-2005)
After a moment the voice said in a dry academic voice “The river Clyde enters the Irish Sea low down among Britain’s back hair of islands and peninsula. Before widening to a firth it flows through Glasgow, the sort of industrial city where most people live nowadays but nobody imagines living. Apart from the cathedral, the university gatehouse and a gawky medieval clocktower it was almost all put up in this and the last century” – “I’m sorry to interrupt again”, said Lanark, “but how do you know this? Who are you anyway?”
“A voice to help you see yourself.”
from Lanark by Alasdair Gray
The folk who wrote and fought and were learned, teaching and saying and praying, they lasted but as a breath, a mist of fog in the hills, but the land was forever, it moved and changed below you, but was forever.
from Sunset Song by James Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) 1901 – 1935
ANDY HALL is a Scottish landscape photographer. He has had three photography books published to date, one of which was shortlisted for a Scottish Nature Photography Award. He runs photography workshops.