While Nan Shepherd is perhaps best-known today for The Living Mountain (1977) her first love was not poetic prose, nor the novels for which she was best-known during her lifetime, but for poetry.  For Shepherd, poetry was the purest form of writing, but her inspiration did not come easy, and her only collection of poems In the Cairngorms (2020) took over 25 years to produce.

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:

Misty Morning 1 – Alison Price, July 2019

Misty Morning 6 – Alison Price, July 2019

Misty Morning 4 – Alison Price, July 2019


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)

Misty Morning 5 – Alison Price, July 2019



Shepherd, N. (1977). The Living Mountain. Edinburgh, Canongate Books.

Shepherd, N. (2020). In the Cairngorms and other Poems. Cambridge, Galileo Publishers.


Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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