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ISLANDS

(dactylic hexameter)

/ ‘ v v / ‘ v v / ‘ v v / ‘ v v / ‘ v v / ‘ v /

Barefooted children are wending their way across mountains of heather
Whether it’s sunny or darkening clouds threaten inclement weather;
Three miles of track that these children must travel to get to their school
Standing alone by a burn that cascades into one dark brown pool.

I did once go to the Island of Lewis and Harris up North
When I was young, the romance of the islands was pulling me forth.
I walked across all the heather-clad mountains from Tarbert to Scarp,
I swam in lochans and lay in the sunshine on Clisham so sharp!

One day I met these meandering children returning from school,
We tried to talk as we all did enjoy the late afternoon’s cool!
Their speech was mostly in their native Gaelic which was strange to me,
I tried to follow as we did descend to their croft by the sea.

One of the children took me by the hand and pulled me inside
Wanting to show me the rest of the family with so much pride.
“Och! Tha y breagh an diugh!” Mother said as I entered the croft,
I did not know what she meant but her voice was friendly and soft.

We soon sat down to a meal of fresh mackerel they had just caught,
After the children to sit next to me the great honour had sought!
Father knew some words of English, the children were also quite fluent
They must speak English at school, which they do learn unless they play truant!

So we made friends very fast and in no time my Gaelic improved,
These friendly children, correcting my errors, good teachers they proved.
After some days when I did have to leave, there were tears in their eyes,
Waving their hands as I left, treating me to their island goodbyes.

[Och! Hah ee preeah un due is the rough pronunciation of the Gaelic sentence)
meaning ” “Och, it’s a fine day today”