A silent conquering army,
The island dead.
Column on column, each with a stone banner
Raised over his head.
A green wave full of fish
In wavering westering ebb-drawn shoals beyond
Sinker or star.
A labyrinth of celled
And waxen pain.
Yet I come to the honeycomb often, to sip the finished
Fragrance of men.
-George Mackay Brown
The Dark Horse journal is really too erudite for me, but I happened to look into this current issue that is wholly dedicated to the writer George Mackay Brown, whom I knew nothing about before. What I read made me curious, and prompted me to find a whole book, a selection of his poems, which are fruits of his life in the Orkney Islands, and from which I picked this one.
Tomorrow on Veterans Day some of us will gather for prayers at a nearby cemetery, where we are remembering our archpriest who resposed several years ago, whose name day was this week, and who also had been a military chaplain before he became a parish priest. I’m looking forward to visiting that place where my goddaughter is also resting in her grave; these images of soldiers, fish and honeycomb are already enriching my own experience as I anticipate being where I might catch that unique “kirkyard” scent of heaven. Memory eternal!
2 thoughts on “A green wave full of fish.”
I had to read it over several times to begin to understand. I had no idea what it was about the first time through. Partly because I skipped the title! I’m not a very good poetry reader, lol.
I hope your Veterans Day was meaningful and lovely.