Why can’t they give these damn mountains
proper names? Their names are
in our language; the mountains
understand it and know each other
by these proper Gaelic names.

Why can’t they be spelt so we can
pronounce them – like Ben Nevis
or Ring of Bright Water?
The spelling is the way it works
and makes everything real.

I can’t remember these names:
what does ‘sgurr’ mean?
Steep, high, impenetrable peak
that divides our minds, our speech
and our understanding.

Here’s one I can say: Ben Tee;
and here’s Gleouraich, Gairich,
Spidean Mialach, Sgurr na Ciche.
(Mist and clouds are swirling
as an eagle soars and falls).

What is that range called that
you see and then it fades?
Knoydart. It means Rough Bounds:
dear, far, near, fearsome
rough bounds of our being.


By Tessa Ransford

From Medusa Dozen, Ramsay Head Press (1994)