Rhododendron bud. 12:35 PM, Laurel Lake, NH. July, 2015.
an extract from ‘A Man in Assynt’, by Norman MacCaig [from the Scottish Poetry Lubrary]
Who owns this landscape?
Has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. –
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting.
I can’t pretend
it gets sick for me in my absence,
though I get
sick for it. Yet I love it
with special gratitude,since
it sends me no letters, is never
jealous and, expecting nothing
from me, gets nothing but
cigarette packets and footprints.
Who owns this landscape? –
The millionaire who bought it or
the poacher staggering downhill in the early morning
with a deer on his back?
Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?
False questions, for
this landscape is
and intractable in any terms
that are human.