'Fail them, and I will rise': Kathleen Jamie's poem after COP26
Scotland’s new makar Kathleen Jamie has written a poem to mark the end of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. Titled ‘What the Clyde said, after COP26’, it refers to the river’s industrial heritage, before lamenting the “storm rains”, and the fact that it has turned into “a poisoned chalice”. It concludes by championing the protests of the young. Here’s the poem:
WHAT THE CLYDE SAID, AFTER COP26
by Kathleen Jamie
I keep the heid. I’m cool.
If asked - but you never ask -
I’d answer in tongues
hinting of linns, of Leven,
Nethan, Kelvin, Cart -
but neutral, balancing
both banks equally as I flow...
Do I judge? I mind the hammer-swing,
the welders’ flash, the heavy
steel-built hulls I bore downstream
from my city, and maybe
I was a blether-skite then,
a wee bit full of myself,
when we seemed gey near unstoppable...
But how can I stomach any more
of these storm rains? How can I
slip quietly away to meet my lover,
the wide-armed Ocean, knowing
I’m a poisoned chalice
she must drain, drinking
everything you chuck away...
So these days, I’m a listener, aye.
Think of me as a long level
liquid ear gliding slowly by.
I heard the world’s words,
the pleas of peoples born
where my ships once sailed,
I heard the beautiful promises...
and, sure, I’m a river,
but I can take a side.
From this day, I’d rather keep afloat,
like wee folded paper boats,
the hopes of the young folk
chanting at my bank,
fear in their spring-bright eyes
so hear this:
fail them, and I will rise.
John F Keane
Thu 18th Nov 2021 13:36
Pity nothing will be done but hey ho, that's the way it goes.
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