Diary of the Plague Year: Day 79 2 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: George Mackay Brown (1921 – 1966)

These were the sounds that dinned upon his ear –
The spider’s fatal purring, and the grey
Trumpeting of old mammoths locked in ice.
No human sound there was: only the evil
Shriek of the violin sang of human woe
And conquest and defeat, and the round drums
  Sobbed as they beat.
He saw the victim nailed against the night
With ritual stars. The skull, a ruin of dreams,
Leaned in the wind, merry with curl and thorn.
The long robes circled. A penitential wail
For the blue lobster and the yellow cornstalk
And the hooded victim, broken to let men live,
  Flashed from their throats.
Then all the faces turned from the Winter Man.
From the loch’s April lip a swan slid out
In a cold rhyme. The year stretched like a child
And rubbed its eyes on light. Spring on the hill
With lamb and tractor, lovers and burning heather.
Byres stood open. The wind’s blue fingers laid
  A migrant on the rock.

The Faber Book of 20th Century Verse

Edited by John Heath-Stubbs & David Wright