While We Sing

This poem first appeared in ‘For A’That’, a Dundee University Press anthology celebrating Robert Burns (ed. Kirsty Gunn and Anna Day). It was later selected by The Scotsman as their ‘Poem of the Month’ (January 2010).


The mouse and the louse

crawl between continents.

Holy hypocrisy spans centuries

as the cries of bastard weans

echo in the cities.

The mountain still springs daisies

as the Twa Dogs bite.

A face now stamps banknotes

where once only letters ran.

Through fluctuating fashions

he stood within the frame,

bowed head and bent knee

made meaningless, dulled to archaism

when poet and people are one.

This peasant did not kneel

and will never kneel while we sing.

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