April the Sixteenth
What did they bring to the saint?
The shepherds a fleece.
That winter many lambs were born in the snow.
What did the dark ones bring?
To Magnus the tinkers have brought
A new bright can. Their hammers beat all night.
What have they brought to the saint?
A fishless fisherman
Spread his torn net at the wall of the church.
And the farm boys offered
A sweetness, gaiety, chasteness
Of hymning mouths.
The women came to their martyr
With woven things
And salt butter for the poor of the island.
And the poor of the island
Came with their hungers,
Then went hovelwards with crossed hands over the hill.
from Collected Poems (John Murray, 2005), by permission of Archie Bevan, Literary Executor for the Estate of George Mackay Brown. Recording from the private recordings of Archie Bevan, used with his permission.