Achiltibuie – there’s a name to speak.
Once by alarmed withs foundered into Greek.
But bobbed up later, sea-changed. Once they found
Latin was mud and marble. Now a name
Hands me a landscape in one trickling sound.
And if a landscape then a people. Five
Syllables keep a history alive –
Habits of love and violence, modes of song,
Heroes and rascals all revealed in this
Encyclopaedia eleven letters long
An exaggeration, of course. The truth is that
The name has chosen itself to stand for what
I know of Gaeldom (why?) and is all these –
Symbol, Messiah, lost Leader of a host,
The sword of Eden and seventeen cottages.
A symbol I can walk in: where it rains.
An Eden, with its serpent. – What remains
When these stolen forces are all stripped away
Is syllables where men look up and see
The Summer Isles impossible in the bay.
Image: Ullapool Museum