Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh began writing poetry in 2000 following the death of a friend, a Gaelic Bard, Donald MacDonald of South Lochboisdale. He has since published a number of collections, most recently The Bedrock: Poems on Themes from the Great Tapestry of Scotland (Maclean Dubois, 2015) and A Voyage to Babylon (Maclean Dubois, 2013). All his collections include poetry reflecting his love of the Hebrides, its landscapes, its flora and fauna, its history and its people. Recently, the bulk of his work has concerned themes from Scottish history associated with John Knox, Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Covenanters. Marsh has also done work on Australian landscapes and aboriginal themes in support of the paintings of Kym Needle for his exhibition catalogues.



Sightlines »

Ekphrastic poetry responding to new artwork at the festival

Thu 2 March - Sat 4 March | 13:00 - 17:00 | FREE | Public Library, Church Square, Meeting Room

Meet the Artist »

Meet some of the poets from the Sightlines exhibition

Fri 3 March | 15:45 - 16:30 | FREE | Public Library, Church Square, Meeting Room


At Tobha Mor

Vikings in South Uist, 795-1266

Hallowe’en – springtime of the dark.
She sits amidst the yellow lichened stones –
a cailleach with the power. With her third eye
she sees souls fly – and counts them
back before dawn. But now she’s fretting
in the day’s reluctant light – what peace
for the lost? For where is Mor,
the King of Norway’s daughter?

Her face the light
of sunrise – a flush
in the dawn’s pearl –
her hair coiled
in butter gold,
a swathe of summer
clasped in delicate
ivory combs.

Mor the lost. Did their knarr founder,
swept past their haven on a voyage
from Man? Was she lost as she crossed
the sands from Linaclete? And the dawn wind
whispering to the cailleach, ‘Mor.’ And the sea
sighing, ‘Mor.’ Called by her father’s
dream her spirit had flown to Norway,
returns on his waking like the ghost of a swan.

Under the raven banner
tides of conflict
ebbed and flowed,
thatch flamed
in hungry tongues.
Stained red
in Uist blood,
swords glittered.

Taigh Moire – Mor’s House –
roof of stone – place of her sleeping.
No prince for her bed. She returns
to that numbing silence though Atlantic storms
rage and howl above her head.

In summer now, in this buckled ground,
she lies under nodding cotton grass
and a sky full of lark-song.


Henry Marsh

From The Bedrock: Poems on Themes from the Great Tapestry of Scotland (MacLean Dubois, 2015)