r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: For the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, 9 October 2004

For the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, 9 October 2004

Open the doors! Light of the day, shine in; light of the mind, shine out!
We have a building which is more than a building.
There is a commerce between inner and outer, between brightness and shadow,
      between the world and those who think about the world.
Is it not a mystery? The parts cohere, they come together like petals of a flower,
      yet they also send their tongues outward to feel and taste the teeming earth.
Did you want classic columns and predictable pediments? A growl of old Gothic
      grandeur? A blissfully boring box?
Not here, no thanks! No icon, no IKEA, no iceberg, but curves and caverns, nooks
      and niches, huddles and heavens, syncopations and surprises. Leave
      symmetry to the cemetery.
But bring together slate and stainless steel, black granite and grey granite,
      seasoned oak and sycamore, concrete blond and smooth as silk – the mix is
      almost alive – it breathes and beckons – imperial marble it is not!

Come down the Mile, into the heart of the city, past the kirk of St Giles and the
      closes and wynds of the noted ghosts of history who drank their claret and
      fell down the steep tenements stairs into the arms of link-boys but who
      wrote and talked the starry Enlightenment of their days –
And before them the auld makars who tickled a Scottish king's ear with melody
      and ribaldry and frank advice –
And when you are there, down there, in the midst of things, not set upon an hill
      with your nose in the air,
This is where you know your parliament should be
And this is where it is, just here.

What do the people want of the place? They want it to be filled with thinking
       persons as open and adventurous as its architecture.
A nest of fearties is what they do not want.
A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want.
A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want.
And perhaps above all the droopy mantra of 'it wizny me' is what they do not
Dear friends, dear lawgivers, dear parliamentarians, you are picking up a thread of
       pride and self-esteem that has been almost but not quite, oh no not quite,
       not ever broken or forgotten.
When you convene you will be reconvening, with a sense of not wholly the power,
       not yet wholly the power, but a good sense of what was once in the honour
       of your grasp.
All right. Forget, or don't forget, the past. Trumpets and robes are fine, but in the
       present and the future you will need something more.
What is it? We, the people, cannot tell you yet, but you will know about it when
      we do tell you.
We give you our consent to govern, don't pocket it and ride away.
We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern well, don't say we have no
      mandate to be so bold.
We give you this great building, don't let your work and hope be other than great
      when you enter and begin.
So now begin. Open the doors and begin.

Edwin Morgan

1 comment:

Eilidh said...

This poem was recited to us by the young man who was our guide on a tour of the Parliament last summer while we were in Edinburgh. It was very moving, and to be there, in that building, with its ideas of democracy so different than England's, was especially significant for me. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words.