Contrast and structure


Kinloch Ainort is a poem of several contrasts. The landscape is sedate yet threatening:

  • it is flat-rock snoring of high mountains
  • while coming on with a fearsome roaring.

Aesthetically, the landscape is dramatic:

a surge-belt of hill-tops

Yet, at times, the landscape is flat and even bare:

a slipperiness of smooth flat rocks

It is worth considering that these contrasts, often juxtaposed within the poem, capture the vitality and variety of both Highland history and life. MacLean acknowledges that it is quiet, while insisting that the echoes of history are still strong and acutely felt. This is similar to the use of landscape in Hallaig, where place is also central to the passing of time.


In the final stanza, shorter lines are paired with word choice that has connotations of speed:

  • surge
  • impetuous

This helps to create a climactic finish. MacLean also ends the poem by referring to the highest point of the mountain – the pinnacles – as one final reminder of its stature and power.

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