It Was Ten Years Ago Today, Edwin Morgan Taught the Band to Play

Okay, not today. But it was ten years ago.

Thanks to a friend I have recently come across the poem written by Edwin Morgan ‘For the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, 9 October 2004’

Here’s an excerpt:

“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.”

The outside of our parliament has never caught my imagination but I’m glad it’s fired somebody’s. These words are enough to make me think about it’s peculiarity and singularity in a new light. And light is important. The interior, with its light and fluidity made a much bigger impression on me. Perhaps it’s good we have a building which cannae take itself too seriously. Not for us, a gloomy and imposing place. But somewhere fresh, airy and oddly approachable.

I suggest you read the full poem and ponder these fierce, fanciful and fine words. Let’s use it as a barometer as we navigate the choppy waves leading up to the referendum. How do the current crop of debaters live up to Morgan’s words?

I’ll close with another extract.

“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
want.”

You can read the whole poem here.

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