Stanza two

The poet begins to create a picture of a woman who lives a life close to the soil in this rural landscape. Her work is physically demanding, both out of doors and within her house.

She is often barefoot but if shod, wears practical men's boots and the poet clearly admires her completing these tasks with capability. We see her engaged in one of the duties of her domestic life, spinning. This is a skill heavily associated with island life since Harris is famous for producing tweed.

The long line paddling with the treadle of the spinning wheel serves to accentuate the lengthiness of the spinning process and creates a sense of movement and activity which MacCaig also associates with his aunt.

A middle-aged woman seated outside operating a spinning wheel

In almost every description of her in the poem she is either in motion or speaking, emphasising the shocking silent finality of her death in the final stanza.

As he continues to recall the spinning process, the description of her right hand drew yarn/marvellously out of the air conveys the air of magic or illusion about the task which was almost entrancing for the young boy watching.

The long vowels in her hand drew yarn elongates the line and helps to convey the impression of the wool being stretched out and made taut. The use of the present tense throughout this stanza creates a sense of immediacy and shows how vividly and readily he can still access these memories.