The Literature of
Orkney and Shetland

Da Blyde Maet

Da Blyde Maet

By J.J. Haldane Burgess
Researcher: Alan Riach
Writer: Morag MacInnes

The immediate meaning in English of the title of this poem, 'Da Blyde-Maet', might be, 'The Blithe-Meat', or, the good meal eaten after the endurance or suffering of childbirth, or, to extend this metaphorically, the reward of the struggle for regeneration, or, blessing after necessary and chosen pain, or, that which grows goodness after one submits to and goes through an experience of extreme hardship, or again, to limit the meaning to a precise biological reference, the afterbirth. The implications multiply. Fiona Stafford, in her study of poetry Local Attachments, writes that 'the vital significance of local attachment for art arises from truth's need for strong foundations.' This might apply to language, as well as geographical or historical reference-points. There is certainly a wealth of suggestion within the very exact words, structure and tones of this tightly-turned, richly-patterned composition, by one of the best-known and most-loved of Shetland's authors, the blind, socialist, politically-committed literary revolutionary J.J. Haldane Burgess.

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