‘Between Mountain and Sea’ by Norman MacCaig

I’ve been a few days longer away from posting than I had planned (assessments have me a little ragged) and I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of April already! But it’s not like poetry is going anywhere, it doesn’t disappear in a wisp of smoke when April turns to May so there’s no need to be sad that National Poetry Month is coming to an end.

Instead we can be thankful that poetry is eternal. As long as hearts flutter with love or break with its ending, as long as humans search for words to find solace or meaning, poetry will be there.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my favourite poems and poets with you all and will keep doing so even after April says its farewell and May sashays in. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.

Today I’m sharing a poem by the late Norman MacCaig who I’m sure most of you will know, but for those who don’t here is a short extract from the Poetry Foundation website:

“MacCaig was a Scottish poet from Edinburgh, with a deep love for Assynt in the Scottish Highlands. Though he spent much of his life and career in Edinburgh, MacCaig’s mother’s Highland ancestry was an important part of his identity, and he spent his summers in Assynt, Scotland, in the northwest Highlands. MacCaig’s poetry bears the influence of his dual upbringing: though he wrote only in English—something of an anomaly for a Scottish poet of his generation—his poetry frequently drew on the Highland landscape and Gaelic culture which he loved” (Poetry Foundation n.d.).

You can read more about Norman MacCaig by clicking here which will take you to the Poetry Foundation website.

The poem I am sharing is one of my favourites and its from the collection Between Mountain and Sea: Poems from Assynt which was published by Polygon in 2018, however the poem itself was written in December 1984. I hope you enjoy reading it.

‘Between Mountain and Sea’

Honey and salt – land smell and sea smell,
as in the long ago, as in forever.

The days pick me up and carry me off,
half-child, half-prisoner,

on their journey that I’ll share
for a while.

They wound and they bless me
with strange gifts:

the salt of absence,
the honey of memory.


MacCaig, N. (2018) Between Mountain and Sea: Poems from Assynt (Edited by Roderick Watson). Edinburgh: Polygon, 157

Poetry Foundation (n.d.) Norman MacCaig 1910-1996 [online]. Available from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/norman-maccaig [27 April 2022]

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