I love you because you love Harris tweed,
How it’s several times slumped into bankruptcy,
Business plans hauled back from the dead,
Only to find itself again
Slyly prized, mixed with moorlands
Honeymooners have mooned on, sheep
Trotted deftly across. I love you
Because you hug its sparkle and dourness,
Dyed-in-the-wool strength, sphagnum-moss green, peaty reds.
To wear tweed is to put on the planet,
Checked or unchecked, islands, hard seas, air threads
Woven from the world’s greatest democracy,
The disunited states of Harris.
I love you more than the Golden Road
(So called for the cost it cost to lay)
To the south, to Rodel, a tweed route great
As the silk roads of Marco Polo;
And now, when flood-tides of haute couture
Sweep in on catwalks, new-wave fashionistas
Mocking thrawn fruits of the looms
Of Tarbert or Luskentyre,
I love you because even here tonight,
Among matt, arty party jackets
And smart-assed, drab bankers’ suits
You still say you love Harris tweed.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2014. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2014 was Roderick Watson.
‘Hard-Wearing Flowers’ is part of a series of love poems in my collection, Testament. The phrase is my favourite phrase from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I'd like the poem to speak for itself, but I remember going into a shed and looking at tweed jackets when honeymooning on Harris in 1988. We were staying in Tarbert, and drove along the Golden Road, with visits to the beach at Luskentyre and to the church at Rodel. I'm wearing a tweed jacket as I type this note. Tweed, like love, is tenacious.