1 IX 1773
4 VIII 13


Acadh nan Seileach
Field of the Willows

Here horses stand
In flowers and graze.
The wind is glad
And sweet in its moving.

Sappho, translated by Guy Davenport

Towards the end of the glen of cones, we parked at Torrlaoighseach and walked down to the gentle river. Up close, mountain desolation translated into Boswell’s gale, or bog-myrtle (roid), rush, and a line of lush alder, reflecting willow.

The Allt na Carnach had spated an alluvial heap of stones which I mistook for the ruins of the township. Suddenly the field filled with pale horses, sylphs of the young woman who enchanted Boswell, “as comely almost as the figure of Sappho, as we see it painted”.


alders, rain, & memories
but no coin to trade in


In a rich green valley
we sat down on a green turf-seat
at the end of a house

one woman
a hyacinth in the mountains
a slender sapling

a sweet apple
on a high branch

was as comely almost
as the figure
of Sappho

standing out
in that rural village
just as once the sun

has finished setting
the moon surpasses
all the stars

spreading her light
on the narrow sea and over all
the prodigious mountains

after Boswell, and Sappho


Pretty. Frisky. Pale. Horses.
Grazing. Between. August. Alders.
Beside. Old. Ruined. Crofts

after Sappho, after Thomas Meyer

Sappho, incarnation of the goddess Anaitis, is concealed in Inverinate, a few miles beyond Acadh nan Seileach. Her haunt is close to Diarmid’s grave and, inevitably, by the site of a Grianan – sun-bower.

On the way to the site we were hoyed by a woman, wondering what we were doing in “her field”. Like a character in an Iain Crichton Smith short story, she turned out to be a Canadian, writing on Athene, here, for the past 6 years. She’d never been over to see the burn of the goddess. We found it by its sound, and collected water by the vulvic confluence, identical to the mound at the centre of Skye’s Temple of Annait.


Powell, Jim; Sappho: A Garland (1993)
Davenport, Guy; Seven Greeks (1995)
Meyer, Thomas; ****
Smith, Iain Crichton; The Red Door and The Black Halo (both 2001)