Poetry Map of Scotland: Poem no. 323

Balquhidder, Blessing of Angus

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you look to your left
you’ll see the spot called ‘Beanach Aonghais’
where, they say, St Angus, our patron saint,
first gazed up the valley. And seeing
these fine woods, fertile plains,
steep, shapely braes sloping
to sparkling waters - seeing such loveliness
he knelt and laid
his gentle benediction on the land.
And just round the corner
at Auchtoo farm we come to … ”

A filthy day in dark age Breadalbane. Gales
howl down the glen. A sky all cloud.
White horses on the loch. A clawing downpour.
On a hillock a figure, weighted
by his sodden robes, red face
and bald pate rain-lashed, shakes his crosier,
facing down the storm, and as it grows
he howls the louder,
hurling back at it
his indefatigable obstinacy.

Yes, they were tough buggers, the old tonsured ones,
their curses were brutal, their temper legendary
and when they blessed a place, it stayed blessed.

Donald Goodbrand Saunders

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