Sorley MacLean (1911-1996) is regarded not only as Gaeldom's finest 20th-century poet but one of Scotland's.

This love poem from his 1943 Dain do Eimhir agus Dain Eile has a majestic sweep. His Collected Poems – White Leaping Flame – were published by Polygon in 2011.


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If we were in Talisker on the shore

where the great white mouth

opens between two hard jaws,

Rubha nan Clach and the Bioda Ruadh,

I would stand beside the sea

renewing love in my spirit

while the ocean was filling

Talisker bay forever:

I would stand there on the bareness of the shore

until Prishal bowed his stallion head.

And if we were together

on Calgary shore in Mull,

between Scotland and Tiree,

between the world and eternity,

I would stay there till doom

measuring sand, grain by grain,

and in Uist, on the shore of Homhsta

in presence of that wide solitude,

I would wait there forever,

for the sea draining drop by drop.

And if I were on the shore of Moidart

with you, for whom my care is new,

I would put up in a synthesis of love for you

the ocean and the sand, drop and grain.

And if we were on Mol Stenscholl Staffin

when the unhappy surging sea dragged

the boulders and threw them over us,

I would build the rampart wall

against an alien eternity grinding its teeth.