A TYPICAL literary outing by Norman MacCaig, combining charmingly whimsical observation of nature with a philosophical undercurrent. The piece is included in the admirable posthumous compilation, The Poems of Norman MacCaig, edited by his son Ewen (Polygon, £25 hardback).


I took my mind a walk

or my mind took me a walk –

whichever was the truth of it.

The light glittered on the water

or the water glittered in the light.

Cormorants stood on a tidal rock

with their wings spread out,

stopping no traffic. Various ducks

shilly-shallied here and there

on the shilly-shallying water.

An occasional gull yelped. Small flowers

were doing their level best

to bring to their kerb bees like

aerial charabancs. Long weeds in the clear

water did Eastern dances, unregarded

by shoals of darning needles. A cow

started a moo but thought

better of it . . . And my feet took me home

and my mind observed to me,

or I to it, how ordinary

extraordinary things are or

how extraordinary ordinary

things are, like the nature of the mind

and the process of observing.

June 1964