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The Nigg Bell

Michael Burgerhuys, m.e.f. 1624 Soli deo Gloria


        They could not know the bell’s sound
        until it was hoisted and swung, free
        from dumbing bonds of tow and rag;

        pulled up, just to where rope unbound
        the earthfast tongue and they might see
        it whole, weighty, pendulant. The gag

        off. Unstruck. Still. All its determined round
        tone bodied on a spine of gravity,
        Dutch metal seeded by Scots air, and big

        with song. Rung, clear of the ground,
        Burgerhuys’s bell dropped it first bronzy
        circle round the kirk of Nigg.

        I walk a little more upright in its sound:
        vertebrae strung like notes in one key,
        waiting for the lift, the upward tug.