Poet's Note: These five sonnets and song are the product of a four-week journey taken in June to Ireland and through west central Scotland and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Unlike the sonnets, the lyrics to the song were not composed as a formal poem. They are simply what they are—lyrics. We Ne’er Again Shall Part (Lyrics) My feet were kissed by the morning dew And the sun shone warm on my face. And the flowered heather I’d gathered for you Was adorned with silken ribbon and lace. You had left behind fair Barra Isle, And your home in Castlebay To join me walking down the aisle At the church on Vatersay. Forever one we will always be, One love, one life, one heart. And for all time and eternity, We never, ne’er again shall part. The clouds grew dark on our wedding day, Your hands turned cold as death. By eventide you had passed away, And taken your final breath Forever one we will always be, One love, one life, one heart. And when we meet in eternity, We ne’er again . . . We ne’er again . . . We ne’er again shall part. Uragh Stone Circle County Kerry, Ireland Beneath a weathered crag and barren hill— Where mystic mist anoints the moorland rock And whispered winds caress a heathered rill— Encircled stones stand vigil o’er the lough. As old as time, ere memory began The rooted sentinels have stood erect To mark the sacred place where mortal man And nature’s primal powers intersect. A winter solstice dawn once brought forth prayer And rhythmic chant to urge the earth toward spring. Today, a flock of sheep has gathered there, And bleating is the wordless hymn they sing. Yet even here and now, as here and then, The seen and unseen mingle in the glen. rill: small stream lough: loch or lake, pronounced lahk Ben Nevis (Photo by James Tweedie) Glen Nevis Lochaber, Scotland Majestic, barren, rock-cropped braes ascend— Arrayed, green-clad, in heather, gorse, and fern— As mid-day, misty, dark’ning clouds descend To cold-embrace each soaring tor and burn. From heights unseen a torrent cascades free, Unfettered into deep Ben Nevis’ glen; Then onwards toward Loch Linnhe and the sea, Through sodden bog and brackened, stone-strewn fen. Though hidden from the eyes of those below, Ben Nevis’ surly brow is sought and found By those who brave the rain, the sleet, and snow, To scale the cairn that marks its highest ground. And there, amidst the cloud, God reaches down To touch and bless fair Scotland’s Highland crown. brae: steep hillside tor: rocky peak burn: hillside stream Black houses (Photo by James A. Tweedie) Black Houses (re the “Highland Clearances” circ. 1750-1860) Isle of Harris and Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland The stones cry out from scoured and windswept land Once home to Highland crofters, braw and free, Who eked a simple life by strength of hand From machair and the Hebridean sea. As clan and kin they lived and had their way, Proud spawn of Viking, Gael, Pict, and Scot, Till landed lairds and law swept them away— The Highlands cleared, the crofters left to rot. Their lives reduced to hunger and despair; Their homes, abandoned, fell into decay; The wretched ruins of displaced lives laid bare. “Black Houses” are what they are called today. In time, some did return, the wrongs made right. The cottages that they rebuilt were white. braw: strong, brave machair: sandy, ocean-side fertile loam, pronounced, mah-kay or mah-keh laird: a designation (not a title) peculiar to Scotland, the owner of a large estate The Unknown Scribe of the 8th Century Book of Kells Isle of Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland ‘Twas love of God that brought him to his knees In humble service to his risen Lord. Not men, but Christ alone he sought to please In full submission to God’s Holy Word. The Spirit led him to Iona, where He transcribed scripture and illumed each text With intricate designs infused with prayer; Forsaking this world’s kingdoms for the next. Surrounded by both peace and solitude, He lived beneath the shadow of the cross. And by God’s grace, in joy and gratitude, He counted all but Christ his Lord as loss. In death, the holy island gave him rest. But by his life, Iona, too, was blessed. The Oban Piper Argyll & Bute, Scotland The sound was faint, and yet not far away; A piper’s chanter practicing a tune. A youth, perhaps, rehearsing a new lay At eventide beneath an Oban moon. No thrum of drone, no windbag to inspire, The piper skirled the haunting melody With simple grace, consumed by Celtic fire. I ken that he was piping it for me. For somewhere deep within my soul I heard An echo of forgotten memories— Surprised, yet blessed, to find such passions stirred By music carried on a Highland breeze. The piper’s tune remains with me today; A gift he never knew he gave away. lay: song or melody ken: knew/know James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.