The Fairy Hill

Schiehallion montage
If you prefer to listen to ‘The Fairy Hill’ please click below:

The Fairy Hill*

Smooth a silken net about
Her swelling form and curve
Uncertain details into definition,
To measure her amount.

Know the lines,
Estimate the lineage,
And weave contours
All around her fullnesses
To catch our new idea.

Armilliary artillery flying free
Mass forgotten, hurtled into the black,
Forever in a captured fall,
Hear mass’s call, and glance ye back.

And there you’ll see her shining like a youth,
Her face swept in cirrus lace,
A glamour shot from so far and so high,
A passing glimpse of highland grace.

How much closer,
How much less in the sky
Would you have to be
To just resolve a sub-pixel
Transient waving wave:
That’s me!

Step by step changing breakfast
For potential energy
On my own modest trajectory
A spiritual experiment
In subtle altitude.

You might first detect
A drystone testament,
A memory of moments
On the far side of the fence,
I will miss until later on.

Now at my zenith,
I suck in view.
Rannoch is clear enough for now,
But clouds lose the Buachaille in the west
And Lawers begins to fade to grey.
The breeze is cold.
Soon it will rain.

Quick flasked hilltop huddle.
Cross-wind, cross ridge,
A high-velocity projectile whistles.
Too slick for a crow.
Merlin in my mind’s eye,
But in sight unseen.

Later, height discarded
In wanton descent, I find
The hand cupped parabola
Of Shirley’s stone bench.
Bracket and echo to my course.

Below the fairy arc,
Her own circle of enchantment,
Who was she, and who was he
Who smoothed this hip of stone
And built so well in thought of her?

Centuries before, surveyed
Plumbed and quantified
In a numbered veil,
Secrets were passed
Of gravity’s rhythm,
And Mother’s dance.

Cup and ring and fairy circles
Around and around we go
Step we, step we,
Across the boards
Heel to heel, and toe to toe.


*The ‘Fairy Hill of the Caledonians’ is Schiehallion in Perthshire. It is a place of many intersections, stories and coincidences. In 1774, pioneering the use of contour lines in mapping, the hill was precisely surveyed by astronomers in order to assist in measurement of the density of the Earth. Later this facilitated accurate calculations of values such as the mass of the Earth, and the force of gravity (G) due to it, which would in turn be essential to orbital flight.

SchiehallionOn 10th May 2013, while I happened to be walking on Schiehallion, Scotland was photographed from orbit by astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station.

About stevedsmart

Steve Smart is a poet and visual artist who also has experience in information design. View all posts by stevedsmart

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