Scottish Poetry Selection
- Edinburgh

Here is a view by Margot Robert Adamson (born in 1898) of Edinburgh, Scotland's Capital city. In it she paints a picture in words which highlight many of the sights around the city that make it a unique place for her - and many others too.


If they should ask what makes the stuff of us
   We should call up such idle things and gone!
The theatre we knew in Grindlay Street,
   The midnight bell vibrating in the Tron;

A church tower's clock along the Lothian Road
   Whose face lit up would turn a lemon moon,
Seen o'er the pallid bleakness of the street
   In the chill dusks that harry northern June,

A Sunday morning over Samson's Ribs,
   The smoky grass that grows on Arthur's Seat;
Turned-yellow willow leaves in Dalkeith Road,
   Dropt lanceheads on the pavement at our feet;

Glimpses got sometimes of the Forfar hills
   With the white snows upon them or, maybe,
Green waters washing round the piers of Leith
   With all the straws and flotsam of the sea.

A certain railway bridge whence one can look
   On a network of bright lines and feel the stress,
Tossing its plumes of milky snow, where goes
   Loud in full pace the thundering North Express

Behind its great green engine; or in Spring
   Black-heaved the Castle Rock and there where blows
By Gordon's window wild the wallflower still,
   The gold that keeps the footprints of Montrose.

The Pentlands over yellow stubble fields
   Seen out beyond Craigmillar; and the flight
Of seagulls wheeling round the dark-shared plough.
   Strewing the landscape with a rush of white.

Such idle things! Gold birches by hill lochs,
   The gales that beat the Lothian shores in strife,
The day you found the great blue alkanette,
   And all the farmlands by the shores of Fife.

Meaning of unusual words:
Samson's Ribs = the columns of volcanic basalt on Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano overlooking Edinburgh.
alkanette = a herb with blue flowers.

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