He has married me with a ring, a ring of bright water
Whose ripples travel from the heart of the sea,
He has married me with a ring of light, the glitter
Broadcast on the swift river.
He has married me with the sun’s circle
Too dazzling to see, traced in summer sky.
He has crowned me with the wreath of white cloud
That gathers on the snowy summit of the mountain,
Ringed me round with the world-circling wind,
Bound me to the whirlwind’s centre.
He has married me with the orbit of the moon
And with the boundless circle of the stars
With the orbits that measure years, months, days, and nights,
Set the tides flowing,
Command the winds to travel or be at rest.
At the ring’s centre
Spirit or angel troubling the still pool,
Causality not in nature,
Finger’s touch that summons at a point, a moment
Stars and planets, life and light
Or gathers cloud about an apex of cold,
Transcendent touch of love summons my world to being.
The Marriage of Psyche
by Kathleen Raine
I discovered this beautiful poem in a book called ‘Ring of Bright Water’ by Gavin Maxwell. The book was left behind in our cottage by the previous owner and has sat on a shelf for over six years until I recently picked it up and started reading it. I am only about a quarter of the way through it and loving every word. The book tells the story of Gavin Maxwell’s life with otters on the remote west coast of Scotland. It became a best seller in its day, selling 1 million copies and inspiring a film of the same name.
Kathleen Raine’s poems are just beautiful and what I didn’t realise is that Gavin Maxwell was the love of her life but, sadly, it was unrequited love. If you would like to read her obituary see here. In ways, I wish I hadn’t, or at least I wish I had finished the book first before reading it.
So a book set on the West Highland seaboard, left behind on a dusty old shelf on a small island off the south coast of Ireland, has led me on a trail of discovery – and to paddling at the water’s edge a few weekends ago, trying to capture my own ‘ring of bright water’ by plopping pebbles into the water. The bonus picture was the bright, sparkling sea above.