The Lookoot

In one of the UK’s worst peacetime sea disasters. The lives of 133 people were lost when the car ferry Princess Victoria, sailing between Stranraer and Larne, sank in a ferocious gale off the Co Down coast on January 31, 1953.

The Lookoot

Leanin oan the auld herber waa,
he’d stare at the mooth o the loch,
Through een as grey as the sea,
een that could pierce ony haar.

Last saved, sum say, stepped aff
the hull o the Victoria,
never sade a wird, jist buried
his heed in trembling hauns.

Never took tae sea agane,
spending his days oan a ferm,
plooin furrows in firm Shire earth,
keepin yon day tae himsel.

He kent the tables aff bi hert,
each departure, each comin hame.
He kent the waaters, calm or storm,
he kent the wuns, breeze or strong.

When the ferries lichts appeared,
he’d straichten up, an stare oot
yince mair, just tae mak shair
It wis her, that aa wis weel.

Satisfied, he’d search his pockits,
bring oot a pipe an lichter.
Efter twa guid draas, he’d turn,
an trailing smoke, chert a coorse hame.

Derek Ross
The Lookout

Leaning on the old harbour wall,
he’d stare at the mouth of the Loch,
through eyes as grey as the sea,
eyes that could pierce any fog.

Last saved, some say, stepped off
the hull of the Victoria,
never said a word, just buried
his head in trembling hands.

Never took to sea again,
spending his days on a farm,
ploughing furrows in firm Shire earth,
keeping that day to himself.

He knew the tables off by heart,
each departure, each coming home.
He knew the waters, calm or storm,
he knew the winds, breeze or strong.

When the ferries lights appeared,
he’d straighten up, and stare out
once more, just to make sure
it was her, that all was well.

Satisfied, he’d search his pockets,
bring out a pipe and lighter.
After two good draws, he’d turn,
and trailing smoke, chart a course home.,

Derek Ross 

By photos,poetry and haiku by Derek Ross

I am a photographer/ poet from Dumfries in South West Scotland. I concentrate on minimalist images and prefer using an iPhone these days. As far as my writing is concerned, I usually write short poems (some in Scots dialect), hence my interest in haiku and related forms.


  1. Beautiful poem, Derek. Poignant and really moving in its simplicity and understatement. And I love the Scots language. There are in it many echoes of Old and Middle English which I studied a long time ago at university – I think that probably makes it a fairly easy read from that point of view.
    And I must say it’s good to reconnect with your blog. I’ve been pretty well out of the loop recently, having had an almost year-long struggle with a bunch of personal demons. I’m glad to say however that we’ve had a generally pretty civilized discussion – heated sometimes – which seem to have brought us to a comfortable agreement! I hope now to return to my own blog very soon. And thank you again for a lovely and memorable poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there, thanks for that considered comment. There are many Old and Middle English roots in Scots right enough. My Scots is very simple (😱) I think, I try to use words and pronunciations according to my accent (Galloway Irish), if that makes sense. There has been a big push to promote Scots here, although they tend to use words and spellings I have never used and I hate glossaries after poems. I’m glad your active again, I retired early due to my own battle but I’m glad to say that the “black dog” has gone. Poetry, photography and my interest in history helps me “ be in the moment” which helps immensely. Keep well and keep blogging.


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