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 This might apply to language, as well as geographical or historical reference-points.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.
Da Blyde Maet
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Alan Riach is the Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University and was President of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2006-2010. Born Lanarkshire 1957, he is the author of Hugh MacDiarmid's Epic Poetry (1991), The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid (1999), Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture and Iconography (2005) and, with Alexander Moffat, Arts of Resistance: Poets, Portraits and Landscapes of Modern Scotland (2008), which the Times Literary Supplement described as 'a landmark book'. He is the author of five books of poems: This Folding Map (1990), An Open Return (1991), First & Last Songs (1995), Clearances (2001) and Homecoming (2009). He is the General Editor of the Collected Works of Hugh MacDiarmid and has co-edited Lion's Milk: Turkish Poems by Scottish Poets (2012), The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature (2009), The Radical Imagination: Lectures and Talks by Wilson Harris (1993) and Scotlands: Poets and the Nation (2004) Formerly Associate Professor and Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, he has been working in Scotland since 2001.
Morag MacInnes was born in Stromness. After living sooth and abroad, lecturing and working in community arts, and producing short stories poems and plays, she's now back home to investigate a very changed island. Her narrative poem cycle Alias Isobel (Hansel 2008) followed the story of an Orcadian cross dresser who worked for the Hudson Bay Company. Other recent dialect poems appear in the anthology These Islands We Sing (Polygon 2011). Her new poetry collection Street Shapes, a collaboration with Orkney artist Diana Leslie, was launched at the end of April 2013.