2-6 & 29 IX – 3 X 1773

 7 VIII 2013


Back on Skye, we worked our way up from Ostaig.

At Armadale we enquired after the great ash trees that grew around the old manse – we were offered a variety of possible locations, roughly as many as the number of people we asked – and wandered in the lovely gardens of Clan MacDonald.

We visited geodisic Sabhal Mor and wondered, is it the turn of the Western Isles to instruct the urban regions?

We snoozed and read Highet, of Glasgow, on the Latin poets, lolling on the strand of Knock Bay. There was charm in his claim of Catullus as an Italian Celt. Some of the words that his poetry brought into Latin may even be of Celtic origin, including kiss, basia. Highet characterized the poet’s “desperate passion”, and “unreasonable, almost suicidal fervour” as typically Celtic. What would Johnson have made of that?

Reading Highet’s ‘Ovid’ on Baigh a’ Chnuic


he’d the charm of saying
   wicked things

in words that shone
   like the sun


though the broad strand
   is golden

still, stuck between your toes
   the dirt shows


Ovid read
   with his feet

   with his cock

(for Harry Gilonis)

Ovid’s learnedness became mythic because, Highet tells us, he could read with his feet – a misunderstanding that arose from the statue in his home town, Sulmo, where he was posed standing upon a book.


Highet, Gilbert, Poets in a Landscape (1957)
Hutchinson, Roger, A Waxing Moon: The Modern Gaelic Revival (2005)