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St Kilda

Battered by the wind and the sea, lying
Forty miles adrift: gaunt, treeless and bare
Where for centuries men eked a living
Taking seabirds from the jagged cliffs there

Or farmed stony fields, bred sheep and cattle
And clung on there at the edge of the world:
Tweed-clad, cut-off, hardy - doing battle
With the elements - till the tourist arrived

Bringing illnesses the islanders caught
Introducing money that turned them soft;
Destroying the very thing which they sought.
So, in the end, the last St Kildans left

The gannets and the bothies and the burn
Sailed from Hirta quay: never to return.





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