Stony Limits (Fragment)
(In Memoriam: Charles Doughty, 1843-1926)
Under no hanging heaven-rooted tree,
Though full of mammuks’ nests,
Bone of old Britain we bury thee
But heeding your unspoken hests
Naught not coeval with the Earth
And indispensable till its end
With what whom you despised may deem the dearth
Of your last resting-place dare blend.
Where nature is content with little so are you
So be it the little to which all else is due.
Nor in vain mimicry of the powers
That lifted up the mountains shall we raise
A stone less of nature’s shaping than of ours
To mark the unfrequented place.
You were not filial to all else
Save to the Dust, the mother of all men,
And where you lie no other sign needs tells
(Unless a gaunt shape resembles you again
In some momentary effect of light on rock)
But your family likeness to all her stock.
Flowers may be strewn upon the grave
Of easy come easy go.
Fitly only some earthquake or tidal wave
O’er you its red rose or its white may throw
But naught else smaller than darkness and light
—Both here, though of no man’s bringing!—
And as any past time had been in your sight
Were you now from your bed upspringing,
Now or a billion years hence, you would see
Scant difference, eyed like eternity.
Hugh MacDiarmid (11 augustus 1892 – 9 september 1978)
Portret door Charles Pulsford, ca. 1975