Thaim the maist idle at chynge are aye deaved
wi the biggin o idols tae staun owre the lave
o whae heized thaim up by, mebbe fine, maistly no
wi the auld warl we’re bidin in yit, faur ablo.
An fir whit? No fir us but fir hoo ill-got siller
maun mind us o thaim, lang syne deid, oan thon pillars,
an no whae peyed maist fir the slave-maister’s fame,
sae let’s build a new warl an no stetuaes fir thaim
eftir puin doon an pittin inby dods o stane
weerin faces weel fed bi the yins wi nae names
we hae mindit. Haud by wi yer aw lives til later.
Fae noo tae a new warl it’s black life that maitters.
About this poem
This poem was chosen by Thomas Clark as part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s ‘Champions’ project, a guest curatorship programme to help extend our national reach.
Thomas Clark says, ‘For as lang as oor nation has possessed itsel o a conscience, thon conscience has – aft as no – expressed itsel tae us in Scots. Burns, Henderson, Lochhead, Kay – oor sangsters an makars hae taen oor roch, blunt haimmer o a leid, an used it tae ding doon aw mainner o murnfu moniments. Which is, as luck wad hae it, the verra business o Stuart Paterson’s poem here, ‘Stetuaes’. Paterson’s political poetry disnae sae muckle keep alive a prood Scottish tradítion as renovate it, refittin it tae oor unco times. Like ony lingua franca, English has lost currency through oweruse, an its grave mishaundlin bi politicians an ither high-heid-yins has rendered it a kittlie thing for a makar’s schemes. The maister’s tools, an aw that, eh. But Stuart Paterson has lang been pyntin the wey forrit – Scots as the language o people, poetry an polítics alike. Tae scrieve in Scots is tae keep yersel honest, tae set by the easy formulations an glaikit takes that English offers as staundart, an tae really engage – no jist wi the issues, but wi yer ain hert.’