The Hunterian art collection is one of Glasgow University’s outstanding cultural assets. Now in a new book, contemporary Scottish poets respond to paintings in the collection. Here is Jim Carruth’s reflection on James Guthrie’s ‘The Gypsy Fires are Burning for Daylight’s Past and Gone’ (1881). The Hunterian Poems, edited by Alan Riach, are published by Freight Books at £12. 99.


(Sept 2014)

Damp and dusk huddle

round dying flames

old summer smothered

in a smoke of slow heat

leaves, blackthorn branches

smoulder by empty fields

muffled voices splutter

curse the year’s turning.

From tongues lost to song

silence demands its time

shrunk indistinct figures

truckled to mud

stare at the embers

distance in expressions lit.

Journey in the hung head

of a hobbling cob

in the white of its long face

the road ahead.

Gypsy fires are burning

for daylights past and gone.