2007 - 2022


indexThe Coin
We brushed the dirt off, held it to the light.
The obverse showed us Scotland, and the head
of a red deer; the antler-glint had fled
but the fine cut could still be felt. All right:
we turned it over, read easily One Pound,
but then the shock of Latin, like a gloss,
Respublica Scotorum, sent across
such ages as we guessed but never found
at the worn edge where once the date had been
and where as many fingers had gripped hard
as hopes their silent race had lost or gained.
The marshy scurf crept up to our machine,
sucked at our boots. Yet nothing seemed ill-starred.
And least of all the realm the coin contained.


* * * * *

The Bottle Imp writes: ‘The Coin’ is the forty-fourth in the sequence of fifty-one sonnets which make up Edwin Morgan‘s Sonnets from Scotland, first published in its entirety in 1984. Sonnets from Scotland can, and should, be regarded as much as a long poem as a sequence, and it is one of the most important and significant contributions to that genre Scotland has ever produced, to be considered in the company of Burns’ Tam O’ Shanter, MacDiarmid’s A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, or W.S. Graham’s The Night-Fishing.

Sonnets from Scotland is a catch-all of Morgan’s extraordinary poetic personality: his hyper-imaginative inventiveness; formal and technical brilliance; fascination with change, energy, transformation, and startling conjunctions; and his indomitable cultural and political optimism and faith in renewal. It was in fact a political failure which was a powerful motivation for the work: the botched Devolution Referendum of 1979, when a majority of Scots voted for devolution, only to be told by the then Labour Westminster government that the majority wasn’t big enough.

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  1. Like I have said Westminster is ready to renege on the referendum if we vote yes.They will say it is only advisory,for years they have called us all the names under the sun,scroungers,subsidy junkies,incapable of running our own affairs what we are the only people nation on the planet that is too stupid to run our own country.While we have a country for this YES vote is for us to be a country or to say we are just a region of Britain/Greater England and so relinquish our country and nation to a nothing a shire or a county.Our descendants will feel shame that we had the chance, unique in the world, a nation a country to take our independence without a drop of blood being spilled. Why are so many against having a country?I can see the currency issue being a non-issue,if Alex Salmond comes out of a cabinet meeting of government (Scottish) ministers and declares that we will create our own central bank and Scottish pound (maybe linked to Sterling) Sterling will plummet,that is the chance Westminster is taking,they threaten to impoverish many for the face of the few.

  2. 74%win says:

    Charelsobrien I would love to see that day

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