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Nan Shepherd: Real Presence

Clear as the endless ecstasy of stars
That mount for ever on an intense air;
Or running pools, of water cold and rare,
In chiselled gorges deep amid the scaurs,
So still, the bright dawn were their best device,
Yet like a thought that has no end they flow;
Or Venus, when her white unearthly glow
Sharpens like awe on skies as green as ice:

To such a clearness love is come at last,
Not disembodied, transubstantiate,
But substance and its essence now are one;
And love informs, yet is the form create.
No false gods now, the images o’ercast,
We are love’s body, or we are undone.


Public Domain

Anna “Nan” Shepherd (1893 – 1981) was a Scottish Modernist writer and poet, best known for her seminal mountain memoir, The Living Mountain, based on experiences of hill walking in the Cairngorms. This is noted as an influence by nature writers who include Robert Macfarlane and Richard Mabey. She also wrote poetry and three novels set in small fictional Northern Scottish communities in North Scotland. This landscape and weather played a major role in her novels and provided a focus for her poetry. Shepherd served as a lecturer in English at the Aberdeen College of Education for most of her working life.

One comment on “Nan Shepherd: Real Presence

  1. Barbara Huntington
    October 1, 2021

    Sometimes I just want to bury myself in an old quilt with an old favorite cup of coffee and some delightful old poems.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2021 by in Environmentalism, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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