Wednesday, 18 September 2013


“A ship is safe in harbour, but that's not what ships are for.” - William Shedd

Magpie Tales has selected this week a fragment of a map showing St Ninian’s isle. This is a small tied island connected by the largest active tombolo (a bar of sand or shingle joining an island to the mainland) in the UK to the south-western coast of the Mainland, Shetland, in Scotland. The tombolo, known locally as an ayre, from the Old Norse for ‘gravel bank’, is 500 metres long. Except at extremely high tides, the sand is above sea level and accessible to walkers.

Depending on the definition used St. Ninian’s is thus either an island, or a peninsula; it has an area of about 72 hectares. The nearest settlement is Bigton on South Mainland. The important Early medieval St Ninian’s Isle Treasure of metalwork, mostly in silver, was discovered under the church floor in 1958. Many seabirds, including puffin visit the island, with several species nesting there.

Magpie’s followers who take up the creative challenge will pen a suitable response. Here is my offering:

The Voyage

I am readying myself for a long voyage
On an ocean of tears wept long ago.
Dry-eyed now I fashion out of the fragments of my heart
A new, sea-faring ship with sails unfurling.

I am readying all that I shall take with me
Wrapping it in a cloth woven of old sorrows -
Would any other contain loss, despair, defeat?
Would any other wrap bitterness, pain, regret?

I am readying myself for the stormy seas ahead
By burning my remembrances, tearing my maps,
Scraping my tablet’s wax, denying all that I have learnt
Effacing dearly paid for past experience.

I am readying flesh and soul that they endure
New hardships, new sufferings, new betrayals.
I take with me the same knife that wounded me before

Resigned to let it test my scars for yet new pain.

And then what if before my voyage ends,
Even as I set my eyes on distant and welcoming new shores,
What if it should come to pass
That my feeble craft fail and sink?
That would not stop me boarding it,
I am ready for the shipwreck,
For after all I have survived a shipwreck once before...


  1. One of your finest poems .... the map of St. Ninian's Isle superimposed over ocean waves ~ brilliant!!

  2. Absolutely awesome! I hope you find your way safely home.

  3. Fantastic poem and one that most of us can identify with...

  4. Awesome! Love your word painting