8–12 IX 1773
9 VIII 2013


In Raasay, if I could have found an Ulysses, I had fancied a Phoeacia.” (Johnson)

They dance here every night,
With no jealousy, no discontent among them,
The elegant and beautiful
Daughters of Rasaay

After Boswell, & Davenport’s Anakreon

They attend their first ball on Raasay the night they arrive. Johnson writes, “Raasay has little that can detain a traveller, except the Laird and his family; but their power wants no auxiliaries. (…) Without is the rough ocean and the rocky land, the beating billows and the howling storm: within is plenty and elegance, beauty and gaiety, the song and the dance.”

As evening came upon us

the carpet was rolled off the floor
the musician called
the company invited to dance –

in mansions of
pleasure we trip

from darkness
into light.

After Johnson

The “little ball” provokes Boswell to describe very differing states of happiness. Sandie Macleod, on the run after the ’45, has retained his pseudonym ‘McCruslick’, a name denoting “a species of satyr… a sort of mountain Puck or hobgoblin”; Boswell writes of his “too obstreperous mirth”, and says that at the ball “he made much jovial noise”. Johnson is equally happy at the ball, in his own way; “it entertained me to observe him sitting by, while we danced, sometimes in deep meditation, sometimes smiling complacently, sometimes looking upon Hooke's Roman History, and sometimes talking a little amidst the noise of the ball, to Mr Donald M'Queen, who anxiously gathered knowledge from him.

The stars, Raasay, praised your dances –
The moon, Raasay, shared your glory –
The isle, Raasay, recalls your joy.

After Arthur Johnston, ‘On the Queen’s Dances’


For ‘Raasay’ read ‘Phoeacia’
For ‘Flora’ read ‘Nausicaa’
For ‘MacLeod’ read ‘Ulysses’
For ‘Hallaig
read ‘Hallaig’


Davenport, Guy, Seven Greeks (1995)
Maclean, Sorley, Coire Gheal Leumraich, White Leaping Flame
Homer, The Odyssey, Books V–XIII