I have not yet read every poem in detail but on a superficial read my favourite is On a Still Morning. I am drawn to short poems, having been subjected to Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) when studying English Literature A’ Level.
In On a Still Morning, Shepherd speaks of the sights and sounds of early morning. As soon as I read it, I was reminded of an early July morning at Loch Cill Chriosd. I recall the colour palette was pale, but a shaft of light lit up the loch in a diluted fashion. The sound was silence. As I watched, waited and listened, mist imperceptibly crept over the water. It was not until I took my eye away from the viewfinder of my camera I realised that apart from the foreground of the scene I could see very little of the view beyond the loch. Here are some images from that morning:
And here is Shepherd’s poem On a Still Morning:
“I hear the silence now,
Alive within its heart
Are the sounds that can not be heard
That the ear may not dispart?
As white light gathers all –
The rose and the amethyst,
The ice-green and the copper-green,
The peacock blue and the mist –
So if I bend my ear
To silence, I grown aware
The stir of sounds I have almost heard
That are not quite there.” (Shepherd 2020)
Shepherd, N. (1977). The Living Mountain. Edinburgh, Canongate Books.
Shepherd, N. (2020). In the Cairngorms and other Poems. Cambridge, Galileo Publishers.