Saturday, 21 July 2007


thole is an untranslatable word that has no real equivalent in english. roughly it means to endure, to suffer but has elements of both. the best evocation of its mood is in alasdair reid's well known poem Scotland

It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'

reid gets so many requests to read this poem that apparently he now refuses to do so. i can understand this. and prefer the one he did about cats

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