The author recalls a trip, as a young man, to Kilravock Castle (pronounced Kilrock), Inverness, Scotland. The ancient home of the Roses or Rosses of Nairnshire who lived there in the 13th century. Famous visitors include Mary, Queen of Scots in 1562, Bonnie Prince Charlie (whom Sir Hugh Rose entertained with a violin rendition of an Italian minuet), the Duke of Cumberland (the day after the Prince’s visit just before the two men fought the Battle of Culloden) and also the poet Robert Burns (in 1787).
Amongst the granite and green, on an Oak tree I leaned
to rest in the shade of its crown.
For that moment just then, I was Lord of this realm,
with these ruins of history renowned.
And in this ancient place, I tried to retrace
the footsteps of those from the past.
In that reticent wood, as a young man I stood
in search of the play’s ghostly cast.
But none there was seen, not the Prince or the Queen
nor the Laird named after the rose.
And the fierce men of war did battle no more.
No soldiers were railed against foes.
All the colours of fall seemed to recall
the clan tartans from seasons of lore.
The echoes of time and the ancient bells’ chime
saluted a world that’s no more.
Now, as I left this scene where legends have been,
I stole one more glance just to see,
if I only could glimpse that Queen or that Prince
or those few that fought to be free.
The Highland Sun teased its way through the leaves
and dappled the ground with its gold.
And the whispering trees with the voice of the breeze,
lamented the fallen of old.
Inspired by the painting ‘Napa Valley Ridge’ by the artist Wayne Thiebaud
Under the Milk-Soft Clouds
Under the drifting milk-soft clouds, blooms the perfect day,
with brooks, ravines and sun-touched streams, and beams of light at play.
The distant edge of purple spills downhill and turns to green,
as brightness herds the mist away from this seductive scene.
And wise tall trees in conference stand, their emerald crowns give shade
to swathes of sheepish blossoms closed shy amongst the glade.
Then tickled by a breathy breeze of scented morning air,
the flowers reveal their artistry with colour-tainted flare.
And whispering wings of butterflies, exploring bounty sweet,
blend with the hum of honey bees in search of nectar’s treat.
Now, dark inked skies with stars for eyes, stare through the steely chill,
that spreads below the faint moon-glow, o’er lifelessness so still.
The far-flung edge of black rolls close, becoming granite grey
and darkness tainted shades of cold keep daylight far away.
Age-old trees in silent sway, roots running wide and deep,
hold firm against the icy blow that flows from mountains steep.
The butterflies and humming bees await the morning bloom,
as seas of coloured petals hide, shut in the nightly gloom.
A covenant with light is made; a promise of new day.
Expectantly, life waits to see tomorrow’s bright display.
Inspired by the magnificent ‘J-Class’ yacht race in the Solent – United Kingdom in 2011.
Running With the J’s
The wind-churned sea with leaps and peaks and lively twisting twirls,
moves to the fancy float and tune of a thousand dancing girls.
It spills and glints quicksilver-like and glimmers garnet green,
as the tips of tall trimmed sails appear in the distant hazy sheen.
Soon the mast is bearing down; keel slicing water through.
This mighty, splendid sailing boat holds to her course so true.
Tell-tails flying straight as dyes, she takes the centre-stage.
Her sleek hull lulls the wilding sea and dulls its noble rage.
As fabric flaps and halyards clap, she eases back from heeling.
She tacks her graceful bow away, with air from canvas peeling.
Sails spill the wind then fill again and shape like soaring wings
and through the surf she flows, she goes; her rigging loudly sings.
On the track of her new tack, she rides the raw emotion
of the frenzied, frothing, foaming sea, so graceful in her motion.
She charges, cutting up the waves and carves the ocean blue.
Through wind-blown swirls like dancing girls, a ‘J’ Class and her crew.