Liz Lochhead's poem 'Open'


Liz Lochhead's poem, 'Open', was written for the opening of the Fourth Session of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July:

‘Open the doors’, said the Poet Morgan,
singing out about ‘our dearest deepest wish’ –
that the work of this, Our Scottish Parliament, begin
and the ‘light of the mind’ shine out
as the light of that new day shone in.

Poets have never been ower fond of politicians.
Are rightly gey wary of flags and slogans --
the Saltire is not a bit of blue sky with a vote on it.
When Burns vented his scorn for thon ‘Parcel of Rogues’
they were oor ain rogues, mind, in oor ain nation.
Morgan wisnae blate either aboot dishin oot a flytin -- in advance --
to you, our brand new parliamentarians.

He tellt ye
to no be
‘a nest of fearties’ nor
‘a phalanx of forelock-tuggers’ nor
‘a symposium of procrastinators’.
He charged you never, ever, to dare come oot wi
‘It wizny me’–
nae excuse for thon ‘droopy mantra’!
He rhymed off quite a catalogue of what we most definitely
Did Not -- and Do Not -- Want.

‘What do the people want of the place?’ he asked.
Answered: that it be ‘filled with thinking persons
as open’ -- aye open -- ‘and adventurous as its architecture.’

Now ‘Justice’ is a fine and bonny word
To engrave upon a mace
As are ‘Integrity’ ‘Compassion’ and ‘Wisdom’ --
Grand Concepts, qualities to grace
Every last thinking person of our Parliament–
But above all: Open-ness.

How else to turn an abstract noun, a name,
Into a concrete verb – a doing word?
Open your ears, listen, let the people petition and be heard.
Justice, Wisdom, Compassion, Integrity?
Open your eyes -- and see.
Integrity, Compassion, Justice, Wisdom?
Open your hearts – and hope.
Open your minds – to change.
Open the future -- because it’s not yet written --
it’s as Open as that it’s comin yet is true!
But close the gap between what we say and what we do.

Open the doors.
Let the work of this, our fourth Parliament, begin.
Let the light of the open mind shine out.
Let the clear and open light of day shine in.

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