(On watching a black and white film of Hugh MacDiarmid
writing poetry by the fire, with Valda his second wife,
in their Ďbut and bení.)
Through pipe and peat smoke, I could see his hands,
like tafelmusik, flutter out an air
as formal, yet relaxed, as one who stands
attentive to a winterís quartet, where
the weaving lines may yet engage, that she
whose constancy, first hidden in the shade
of scratchy monochrome, evaded me.
His Parker Sonnet stabbing like a blade,
self-driven and, as far as could be seen,
unhesitant, penned insolent quatrains,
as heated as the glowing turves. Yet clean
as granite cliffs, someone half-seen, took pains
for his hearthstone, its gritty pillars sheer;
fire-shadows lapped that she who hid his fear.
If you have any comments on this poem, Nigel Stuart would
be pleased to hear from you.
The film mentioned in the note to this poem can be seen at: