Nan Shepherd


Not sure how it is that I am just learning about Nan Shepherd,  described as a “woman whose first love was hill walking.”  Her poem, Real Presence, ends with two gorgeous lines and describes something most animists will recognize:

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.

Here’s more information about her, although it helps if you can “listen” in the Scottish Doric dialect:

If you get Britbox, you’ll find that Episode 2 of the newly-released Winterwatch has a lovely bit about her.

I’m adding her book, The Living Mountain,  to my list.

Picture found here.

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