Document 337

St Ninian's Isle

Author(s): Christine De Luca

Copyright holder(s): Christine De Luca


Hit hed ta be a saint at strayed dis far nort
at cared aboot da sowls o Pictish fisherfock.
Foo da bairns o Rörick man a gawped
at men at biggit chapels, walked in silence.
Someen man a shaan dem whaar da piltocks took
Sweyn Holm, Selkie Gyo; gied dem bere an kale
fae Ireland's strippit rigs or Bigton's toons.
Eence here, dey nivver could a left: trist slaked
wi beauty; air laced wi saat an honey.

St Francis could a felt at hame here if he'd come
ta Ninian's Isle. On a warm day he micht
a tocht himsel on some green suddern shore.
Da burnin pavements o Assisi couldna kyemp
wi dis pale nordern straand: a glisk on watter
is hit kissed da sheenin saand; a smush
o saandiloos aroond his feet, chastin froad
alang da shoormal is he gud. He wid a traded
martins fur a single laverock i da lift
sheerlin blissins on göd an ill alick.
An i da waa o Ninian's kirk he wid a fun a font
filt wi a stirlin's laachter. An i dis quiet place
a wagtail micht a tippit in ta sit wi him
- is shö sits apö da altar noo - her flicht
a peerie chancel dance wi dips an tirls
at's lifted centuries o haerts. She'd be
his perfect cantor for a chorus o göd wirds.

Here, on a boannie day, wi birds apö da wing
aa but da herdest haerts could fin demsels
communin wi da greater scheme o things.

at: that; dis: this; foo: how; man a: must have; shaan: shown; dem: them; piltocks: saithe (coal fish); dem: them; bere: barley; strippit: striped; rigs: fields; toons: arable fields; dey: they; could a: could have; trist: thirst; saat: salt; suddern: southern; kyemp: compete; dis: this; glisk: glimpse; smush: drizzle; saandiloos: ringed plovers; chastin: chasing; froad: foam; shoormal: tideline; gud: went; wid a: would have; lift: sky; sheerlin: singing; göd: good; alick: alike; waa: wall; fun: found; filt: filled; laachter: brood; tippit: walked jauntily; shö: she; apö: upon; peerie: little; tirls: twirls; at's: that's; göd wirds; prayers; demsels: themselves

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

St Ninian's Isle. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 30 May 2024, from

MLA Style:

"St Ninian's Isle." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 30 May 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "St Ninian's Isle," accessed 30 May 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 337

St Ninian's Isle


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 1997
Word count 366
General description from collection of poems

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Shetland Library
Publication year 2002
Place of publication Shetland
ISBN/ISSN 0-904562-70-0
Edition 1st
Part of a longer series of texts
Name of series Plain Song

Text type



Author details

Author id 120
Forenames Christine
Surname De Luca
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Head of Assessment, Research and Development
Place of birth Bressay
Region of birth Shetland
Birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Headmaster
Father's place of birth Vidlin
Father's region of birth Shetland
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Primary Teacher
Mother's place of birth Cunningsburgh
Mother's region of birth Shetland
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Sh
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes All
Scots No Yes No Yes Work, read Scots literature