Week 183: The Death of Peter Esson, by George Mackay Brown

Another craggily individualist elegy by the Orkney poet George Mackay Brown.

The Death of Peter Esson
Tailor, Town Librarian, Free Kirk Elder

Peter at some immortal cloth, it seemed,
Fashioned and stitched, for so long had he sat
Heraldic on his bench. We never dreamed
It was his shroud that he was busy at.

Well Peter knew his thousand books would pass
Grey into dust, that still a tinker’s tale
As hard as granite and as sweet as grass
Told over reeking pipes, outlasts them all.

The Free Kirk cleaves gray houses – Peter’s ark
Freighted for heaven galeblown with psalm and prayer.
The predestined needle quivered on the mark.
The wheel spun true. The seventieth rock was near.

Peter, I mourned. Early on Monday last
There came a wave and stood above your mast.

George Mackay Brown, 1959


4 thoughts on “Week 183: The Death of Peter Esson, by George Mackay Brown

    • Indeed. It calls for a new ‘Lament for the Makars’ in the style of William Dunbar (or maybe it’s already been done….)

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