Poem: ‘We, the Scottish people’ by Don Paterson

We, the Scottish people, undertake to find within our culture the true measure

of the mind’s vitality and spirit’s health

to see that what is best in us is treasured

and what is treasured, held as common wealth to guarantee all Scots folk of whatever

age or origin, estate or creed the means and the occasion to discover

their skill or gift, and let it flower and seed to take just pride in all in our diverse tongues

folks and customs, and also what is yet distinct in us: our thousand thousand songs

our wild invention and our thrawn debate to act as democratic overseer

of our whole culture: wise conservator of its tradition, its future’s engineer

the very engine of of its living hour to honour our best artists, and respect

not just the plain cost of their undertaking but the worth of what they make, and every act

of service and midwifery to that making and to discover through our artistry

and fine appreciation of our art that we are not – so know ourselves to be

the whole world, both in microcosm and part and recognise in this our charge of care

to friend and stranger, beast and bird and tree the planetary and local space we share

we will do this wakefully, and imaginatively.

by Don Paterson


Photograph by Peter McNally

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