GMB — Northern Lights (1999)

51F3368JFVL.jpgGMB. Northern Lights: A Poet’s Sources. Ed. Archie Bevan and Brian Murray. London: John Murray, 1999.

xvi + 336 pp. 13.5 × 21.5 cm. Dust-wrapper. Collage illustrations by Charles Shearer (also reproduced in Ambit, no. 163 [2001]: 55–59).

An anthology compiled by his literary executors: at the beginning and end of the book are some newspaper columns from the Orkney Herald and the Orcadian. “By interweaving prose and poetry, this book seeks to follow the example of its great predecessor, An Orkney Tapestry. . . . Finally, there is the question of how far the individual poems in this book can be regarded as the poet’s final version. Only a small handful were published in his lifetime, and it is therefore impossible to say how many would have met his rigorous standards” (“Editors’ Introduction,” pp. xi–xii).

Contents: Enchantment of Island: A Poet’s Sources [July–October 1993] — UNDER BRINKIE’S BRAE: WHEEL OF THE YEAR — January — The Pirate and His Sweetheart [30 January 1992] — A Ballad of Gow the Pirate [poem, 14 June 1989] — A January Day: Burns [poem, 24 January 1995] — January the Twenty-fifty [poem, 27 January 1990] — February — Stromness and the Nor’Wast [15 July 1993] — John Rae and Sir John Franklin [c. 1950] — Ships in the Ice [poem, September 1972 and 1979] — Snow: from a Hospital [poem, 1968] — March — Bombs at the Brig-o-Waithe [31 March 1994] — The First Daffodil: A Tinker Wife [poem, December 1995] — The Harrowing of Hell [poem, April 1996] — April — St Magnus Day [16 April 1992] — St Magnus [poem, 1995] — Song for St Magnus: 16 April [poem, 16 April 1993] — William and Mareon Clark [4 April 1996] — William’s Account Book [poem, 1983] — May — The First of May [30 April 1981] — The First of May: A Vanished Hamnavoe Merchant [poem, 1 May 1987] — June — The First Houses in Hamnavoe [19 May 1994] — Hamnavoe: The First Village [poem, 30 December 1986] — The Johnsmas Fires [15 June 1995] — The Wandering Fiddler [poem, Spring, 1985] — July — A Stone Age Pub Crawl [11 February 1993] — Skara Brae: A Time of Drought [poem, March 1987] — An Old Man in July [poem, July 1994] — August — The Tender Tables [12 August 1993] — The Joiners’ Yard: 1886 [poem, 9 August 1986] — Sunday in Selskay Isle [poem, 14 March 1993] — September — Lammas Market [14 September 1995] — The Tinker Wife [poem, Summer, 1956] — Earl Rognvald’s Commission [28 September 1995] — The Kirk and the Ship [poem, March 1988] — October — Weather Lore [20 October 1994] — Weather Forecasts [poem, April 1994] — Lights Out! [18 March 1994] — Lamp [poem, December 1985] — November — All Saints’ Day [10 November 1994] — All Souls [poem, 2 November 1991] — December — The Shortest day [21 December 1995] — Two Maeshowe Poems [1995] — Carol [poem, 1995] — Hogmanay [28 December 1995] — New Year’s Day: 1920s [poem, December 1990] — ISLAND EPIPHANIES — Binscarth Wood [August 1946] — Yesnaby in Spring [April 1946] — Crossing the Pentland [April 1949] — In Search of a Green Valley [July 1949], Rackwick [poem, 1950] — Rousay: Isle of Beauty and History [August 1950] — A Sky-scape in March [March 1951] — Out on the Lifeboat [May 1951] — From Brinkie’s Brae [August 1951] — A Phantom Road [August 1952] — A Visit to the Cathedral [June 1954] — A Day in Rendall [June 1954] — The Mysterious Harray Loch [June 1955] — FINISHED FRAGRANCE — Kirkyard [poem, 1971] — A Forgotten Tomb [13 September 1955] — Mary Jane Mackay, 1891–1967 (A Memoir) [October 1981–February 1983] — John Brown: Tailor and Postman [27 January 1980] — The Death of Peter Esson: Tailor, Town Librarian, Free Kirk Elder [poem, 1959] — Peter Esson [24 August 1995] — Ernest Marwick [23 April 1984] — Willie Farquar and the Golden Slipper [26 July 1983] — Danny Watt [15 July 1958] — The Happy Farmer [21 January 1954] — ORKNEY LEGENDS: THE JOYOUS SONG OF A PEOPLE — The Ship That Struck the Moon [1973] — Ymir’s Skull [6 October 1973] — The Taking of Orkney [October/November 1995] — The Milkmaid and the Wife with Bunions [November 1961] — The First Football Match [December 1995] — How the Sabistons Came to Orkney [Winter, 1963]  — The Changeling [1974] — Betty Corrigall [1987] — Betty Corrigall [poem, August 1984] — The Last Trow [21 June 1954] — SHETLAND: A SEARCH FOR SYMBOLS [excerpts from his Shetland diary and various unidentified prose pieces are interspersed among the following] — The Black Ship — [The Thresher [poem] — Summer Songs [poem] — Vementry [poem] — Birth — Up-Helly-Aa [poem] — Broch — Ode to Adam Christie [poem] — A Trial in Scalloway — Press-gang — Thomas Leisk, Factor, at His Ledger in the Haa of Grobness [poem] — April the Sixteenth — Fiddle Music — Orfeo: A Masque [poem] — Skippers — The Ballad of Betty Mouat [poem] — Earl Rognval at Sumburgh [poem] — Will and Testament [poem] — Whalers — Pirates and Hollanders [poem] — Yule Candle [poem] — A Scroll in Bergen [poem, 1988] — SHETLAND DIARY [excerpts, 28 May–10 June 1988] — THE FIRST WASH OF SPRING: APRIL 1996 [GMB’s last published column, 11 April 1996].

Reviews: “Burn Poetic Papers,” The Times, 27 May 1999, p. 45. — Douglas Gifford, Scotsman, 12 June 1999, p. 10. — Kathleen Jamie, “A Light That Will Never Go Out,” Sunday Herald, 13 June 1999, p. 8. — Lesley Duncan, “Still under Magic’s Spell,” Glasgow Herald, 17 June 1999, p. 22. — Fergus Macneill, Aberdeen Press and Journal, Leisure, 19 June 1999, p. 18. — Simon Hall, “Brightly Shines the North Star,” Scotland on Sunday, 20 June 1999, p. 13. — Richard Edmonds, “Bathing in Light from a Northern Island Sky,” Birmingham Post, 26 June 1999, p. 60. — John McGahern, “On the Turning Wheel of the Year,” Irish Times, 3 July 1999, p. 67. — Ronald Blythe, “Voice of Orkney,” Tablet 253 (10 July 1999): 961. — Euan Cameron, “The Rhythmic Voice of the Islands,” Sunday Times, 18 July 1999, p. 8. — Alex Clark, “Willie’s Whisky,” Times Literary Supplement, 10 September 1999, p. 25.

Copies: British LibraryHarvard University LibraryNational Library of Scotland.


Paperback reprint (2007):

northern-lights.jpg

GMB. Northern Lights: A Poet’s Sources. Ed. Archie Bevan and Brian Murray. Edinburgh: Polygon, 2007.

Copies: Library of Congress — National Library of Scotland.


Ebook (2013):

Northern Lights 2013 d-j

GMB. Northern Lights: A Poet’s Sources. Ed. Archie Bevan and Brian Murray. London: John Murray, 2013.

Copies: British LibraryNational Library of Scotland.

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