Place and mood

Like Shores and Hallaig, in Girl of the Red-Gold Hair, MacLean uses a sense of place to reflect a particular mood. In this poem, that mood is bleak and barren, like the landscape described. In Girl of the Red-Gold Hair, MacLean uses the sea as a metaphor, in a similar manner to the imagery in Shores.


Like I Gave You Immortality and Shores, the Girl of the Red-Gold Hair is a love poem.

  • Shores is more optimistic in tone
  • Girl of the Red-Gold Hair is entirely pessimistic, sharing more in common with I Gave You Immortality
  • MacLean captures the heartache that unreciprocated love can bring in both Girl of the Red-Gold Hair and I Gave You Immortality
  • in both poems, the speaker is a victim of love

Time as a healer

MacLean’s poetry often deals with time. In Girl of the Red-Gold Hair, MacLean struggles to see time as a healer to his suffering:

today and tomorrow, indifferent to my expectations

This overlaps with some of the concerns of I Gave You Immortality.

More generally, this can also be linked to Hallaig, in which a community still acutely feels a sense of loss and struggles to recover, despite the passing of time.

Enduring power of love

Although the effect of love varies, Girl of the Red-Gold Hair, like Hallaig and many of MacLean’s poems, outlines the enduring power of love.


The natural world is present in Girl of the Red-Gold Hair. However, in this instance, unlike in some of MacLean’s other work, nature and the natural world do not seem to have the power to alter the emotions that the speaker feels. Nonetheless, it is interesting that the natural surroundings are still prominent – they are a constant to MacLean’s life, and a constant to Highland traditions.

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