Henry Morton described Skye’s Cuillin ridge as ‘Wagner’s ride of the Valkyries frozen in stone and hung up like a colossal screen against the sky’. Norman MacCaig does something similar in his ‘Moment Musical in Assynt’ a poem that trips across the northern mountains with real sprezzatura, and a little bit of punk at the end.
Moment musical in Assynt A mountain is a sort of music: theme And counter theme displaced in air amongst Their own variations. Wagnerian Devil signed the Coigach score; And God was Mozart when he wrote Cul Mor. You climb a trio when you climb Cul Beag. Stac Polly – there’s a rondo in seven sharps, Neat as a trivet. And Quinag, rallentando in the haze, Is one long tune extending phrase by phrase. I listen with my eyes and see through that Mellifluous din of shapes my masterpiece Of masterpieces: One sandstone chord that holds up time in space – Sforzando Suilven reared on his ground bass. Norman MacCaig, February 1967