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Elphinstone Kist   Maakers, Place

Heart of Stone     by: Scott, Alexander

The sea-maw spires i the stane-gray lift
Owre sworlan swaws o the stane-gray sea,
Flaffers her wings - a flash o faem-white feathers -
And warssles awa i the wake o the trauchled trawler
That hirples hame half-drouned wi the weicht o herrin.

The sea-gray toun, the stane-grey sea,
The cushat's croudle mells wi the sea-maw's skirl
Whaur baith gae skaichan fish-guts doun the quays
Or scrannan crumbs in cracks o the thrang causeys,
A lichthous plays the lamp-post owre a close,
The traffic clappers through a fisher's clachan
Whaur aa the vennels spulyie names frae the sea,
And kirks and crans clamjamfrie,
Heaven and haven mixter-maxtered heave
To the sweel o the same saut tide.

A teuch toun, whaur even the strand maks siller,
A roch Riviera gleys at the granite sea,
Wi a fun-fair squatteran roun the Muckle Dipper,
A sprauchle o stalls for sweeties and ice-a-da-cream
To fleech til the tongues o bairns o a fause simmer
And cant o the sun til bonnie bare-buff quines
On a bourached beach whaur crouds find crouseness in crouds,
Cantie to keek at the quines -
A blae Blackpool, but owre ayont it
A mile o naukit sand whaur nets for salmon
Gae wydan out waist-deep, and in ahint them
The links are streekit lang for the lane gowfer
To clour his clypie baa wi nane to claik
But sea-maws habblan aside the ae bit hous
In aa thon gant o green,
The ae bit hous the salmon-fishers' howff
They plenish wi gear for wark whaur ithers play.

This toun is free til aa that live by the land
And aa that live by the sea, for fermers' faces
And fishermens' faces, strang to thole and strauchle,
To rive frae the sweirt rock and the ruggan swaw
A rowth o smeddum, thae are the same
As mak weel-faur'd (or ill) the fowk o the toun,
Sen aa are bairns o the bairns o fishers and fermers,
They weir their faces eftir their granshers' fashion,
Thae faces callered by country winds
Or stobbed by the stang o saut in wallochan watters
Look frae ahint a counter or owre a bar,
Frae a fitbaa croud or a queue at the pictur-palace,
Frae factory-yetts at yokan-time or at lowsan,
Or cleekit in sabbath braws as the kirk skails,
Sic faces, fit to daur the dunt o storms
Frae clintie seas or bens as coorse as brine,
Mak city streets a warld o wild stramash
Whaur bonnie fechters bolden at ilka ferlie.

The tapmaist ferlie aye the toun itsel,
Graithed intil granite, stanced in stalliard stane,
A hard hauld, a sterk steid,
A breem bield o steive biggins,
Riven frae raw rock, and rockie-rooted,
She bares her brou til the bite o the brashy gale
Or stares back straucht at the skimmeran scaud o the sun,
Fowr-square til aa the elements, fine or foul,
Heedless o rain and reek
(Sen rain can only wash the reek awa),
For nocht can fyle her adamant face,
Itsel an armour proof til ilka onding.

Bonnieness-blind, thae fowk, for aa their birr!
Wha else, i the stanie straucht o Union Street,
Wi only the ae brig till open space,
Wad block thon brichtness out wi shargar shoppies?
What ither toun can blaw its blastie tooter
For siccan a rowth o temples til the Muses
(A pictur-hous for ilk ten thousand heid)?
Whaur else are fowk sae daft on 'the modern drama'
That time-woorn Hamlet plays til a toom haa
While even courtan couples howder in queues
Gin X sud mark the spot - and X aye marks it -
For spang-new Nocht-Nocht-Seeven?
Whaur else wad Gordon tak sic a hint frae the toun
And turn til the Art Gall'ry a gallus back?
Whaur else wad Burns far leifer glower at's gowan
Nor look his brither Scots i the ee - and lauch?
Na, na, he's nae amused - like vogie Victoria,
The cross queen stuid standan at Queen's Cross,
And even she, her face til the fyke o Balmoral,
Feels mair at hame in an artless airt nor Burns.

Ahint his back auld men find shool-the-board
A cantier ploy nor onie poetry clavers,
And neives that aince had haudden cleek or spad
Are grippit nou for a game
In a green howe at the hert o the granite toun,
Nae mair nor a sclim o steps frae the stane centre
Whaur business breeds in banks its paper bairns
And hous-insurance biggs its hames in haas
Abune the heids o leddies wi smaa leisure
(And smaa-er cheenge) that jink frae shop til store
In het pursuit o twa for the price o the t'ane,
Their ae fond dwaum the mak o a braw bargain,
Bonnier far nor a ballant threepit by Burns,
Thon daisy-daffer, deid in a thratch o debt.

Gin onie debt be here, it's haudden dern,
Happed ahin stanes that sclent the speak o siller
Frae raw on hauchty raw o terraced houses,
Their snawie fronts as clean as a banker's credit
And cauld as his arctic hert, a cranreuch beauty
Born frae the frore skinkle o iceberg stane,
The rock itsel (far mair nor the men that wrocht it),
The rock steekan its ain sterk style
On fowk whas foremaist fancy was biggan cheap
In hame-owre stane that speired the least o siller
To howk frae a hole out-by and bike in bields,
Syne fand themsels a fowk whas granite een
Were claucht in an icy wab o granite graithing,
A cauldrife chairm they never meant to mak
But hytered on by chance, the luck o the land.

Yet syne they socht to suit thon chancy chairm
Til notions stown frae beuks on 'aht end beauteh' -
Save us, a bonnie soss! Our sins in stane,
The graveyairds sprauchle gantan, their granite teeth
Asclent wi a deid skinkle, a gless girn
At nichtgouned angels far owre lourd to flie,
And nappied cherubs far owre cauld to flichter,
And whim-wham scrolls, and whigmaleerie urns,
The haill jing-bang bumbazed in a sacred scutter
To fleg the deid wi a fate that's waur nor daith.

But fient the fate has pouer to ding sic fauters,
In life they looked wi never a blink o the ee
At horror mair profane nor the pynes o hell,
Thon maister-monsterpiece the Marischal College,
A Gothic nichtmare, granite steered like glaur
Til ferlie frills and fancy flichtmaflethers,
Stookie insteid o stane,
Whaur sterkness, strength, the granite's only graces,
Are raxed and rived til pranksome prettifications,
The fraiky shots at grace o a graceless fowk.

But neither auld mistaks nor new mishanters
Can steerach the fine fettle o ferlie stane,
The adamant face that nocht can fyle,
Nae rain, nae reek,
Fowr-square til aa the elements, fine or foul,
She stares back straucht at the skimmeran scaud o the sun
Or bares her brou til the bite o the brashy gale,
Riven frae raw rock, and rockie-rooted,
A breem bield o steive biggins,
A hard hauld, a sterk steid
Whaur bonnie fechters bolden at ilka ferlie,
The city streets a warld o wild stramash
Frae clintie seas or bens as coorse as brine
For fowk sae fit to daur the dunt o storms
Wi faces stobbed by the stang o saut
Or callered by country winds
In a teuch toun whaur even the strand maks siller,
The sweel o the same saut tide
Clanjamfries crans and kirks by thrang causeys
Whaur cushat's croudle mells wi sea-maw's skirl,
And hirplan hame half-drouned wi the weicht o herrin
The trauchled trawler waffs in her wake
A flaffer o wings - a flash o faem-white feathers -
As the sea-maw spires i the stane-grey lift
Owre sworlan swaws o the stane-grey sea
And sclents til the sea-gray toun, the hert o stane.



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