‘Iolaire’, by Donald S. Murray

Iolaire Disaster

Donald Murray, who is originally from Lewis but now lives in Shetland, has shared a very moving (and very Calvinist!) poem about the Iolaire Disaster in 1919 for Remembrance Day 2013:

Sometimes we still sit upon that ledge
and consider the dark fervour of the waves,
wondering why some of us went under
while others clung with every fibre and were saved.
There are no answers to that question. Fortune
(whatever scholars tell us) does not favour the brave
or the virtuous. It rescued some
who could be wicked, hard and wretched ones enslaved
to drink or women, and swept aside
the good, the kind, those who each day forgave
others. We only know a rope was hurled
and we possessed both grip and faith
strong enough to hold it. Nothing else is known to us,
all as dark, intangible as the fervour of these waves.


  1. Speaks to grief of all kinds. And Yes we’ve all got to die at some stage, but I’m not entirely sure that we’ll get the answer for why some went sooner than others, then, not even in John Hicks pareschatalogical resolution.


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