In the desolate uplands of Iain Crichton Smith’s Deer on the High Hills (1962) the animate and inanimate quietly converse. They bear witness to the hidden memories and unnoticed change of a landscape whose social history and ecology are inextricable. Through the shifting morphologies (linguistic and biological) of Crichton Smith’s poem, this article traces an understanding of the Highlands and a way of reading. Comparing the text to work by Norman MacCaig, Nan Shepherd and Duncan Ban MacIntyre, it uncovers the poet’s unique – though complex – ‘ecological’ approach to the land, and develops an ‘ecological’ attention to the text, rooted in receptive close-reading. It finds that after Crichton Smith’s scrutiny of Highland stories, myths and symbols, all that remains is ecology – and only then the possibility of altered perception.


Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.