Three little poems from song cycles based on the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum’s rich collections of artefacts and paintings, and recently premiered there. The poets, in order, are Clive Wright, John Coutts, and Colin Donati.


The Stirling Head of a Lady of the Court of James V                                          

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 A cherub at her breast denotes her passing

See how she wears full livery                              

of vivid rainbow colours, and yet,                              

for the flight of her life, her cheeks

are made up pale, eye-brow arched                               

as in surprise her lips open…                          

there, tucked in the cockpit of her breast,

the Pilot Cherub sits, holds tight…                             

hearts flutter under wings of silk,

ready for take-off, ready to fly…                               

till earth and all this world Goodbye.


You took a piece of plastic from the dresser

And tried to wipe your brother's tears away.

The well-bumped head was four years old: the ill-

Controlled and clumsy hands were less than two.

You almost wiped his eyes, and having done so,

Dropped the crumpled plastic on the floor,


          This, my son of several words,

I shan't forget. This was your first observed

Unselfish act. I watch you in the garden,

Feeling the grass between your toes. Already

You give unguarded love. At nineteen months

The wobbly child aspires to play the man.


the new and the now

are ancient

and the only constancy

the light


is now

is new

is ancient


to see for the first time merely

merely to be born

and to die

as impossible as death


the only constancy