ALAN Riach's atmospheric lines are among those illustrated in the current textile-art exhibition, A Stitch in Rhyme, at the Smith Art Gallery, Stirling.

The poem comes from his collection, Clearances.


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I never saw the intricate connections

with quite this sunny clarity before,

such intimate revealing of relations

in brilliance, and at such an hour:

the West and Islands open to the sea

and Ireland, always seemed to be

alive with colour: bright blue waters,

emeralds and snow; but shapes and movement,

glacial striations, ox-bow lakes, tidal rivers,

hill-tops making patterns to each other –

alll connect in vision as the art of men

and women finds its laws in natural

reciprocation: raindrops in a quiet pool

form expanding spirals on the bending plane:

an ancient brooch, the lanulae –

silver, gold: water, sunlight, eyes

to see the clearness of design. And this

takes place in mind, imagination:

across 10,000 years, while now

outside the car my father drives, the rain

drives down on grass and bracken, heather

rocks and hills and lochs and lochans,

midges and elusive little fish. The forestry

have camouflaged the earth's wet dark

antiquity; the road berween Kilmartin

and the ferry just approaching Oban is

impatient, twisty, a hard fast exit through

this valley of old ghosts. And yet the vision stays

perception, the clarity of sunlight's

careful disposition, in

this undifferentiated time.