To The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1505-2005)A Welcome
Sons and daughters of Aesculapius
from Doctor & Prof to Mr & Ms,
we the citizenry of Auld Reekie
celebrate your Quincentenary;
James IV bestowing, a year later,
his royal charter on your alma mater
letting you share courtly patronage
with Poetry, in Scotland's Golden Age.
Lister's pioneering torch passed down
from generation to generation,
long gone the allocation of 'one
executed criminal for dissection
per annum';George III's benevolence
(sadly no cure as recompense);
and (smartly side-stepped) Dr Knox,
Burke and Hare his Box and Cox.
Respected world-wide as a cradle
of skill and learning Playfair Hall
merits its high repute, each bumper
crop from Kuwait to Kuala Lumpur
attuned on every medical topic
from cardiac to endoscopic,
divisions of race and nationhood
subsumed in close ties of the blood.
The Royal College still the hub,
illustriously you span the globe
from pole to pole ... the scalpel
that glitters no mere symbol
but guided by the hand that sees,
a source of healing harmonies:
Wi' hairt and micht we welcome ye
and offer earnest hopes for your prosperity.
Lothian BurnUp here, scarcely
birdsong even: only
the labials and gutturals
of this burn as it gurgles
downhill, locality of accent
in vowel and consonant,
through heather and sandstone
traced by inflection
and sharp interjection
until, in a mossy outcrop,
it comes to a glottal stop.
Stewart Conn was the Edinburgh Makar from 2002 to 2005. He was born in Glasgow and grew up in Ayrshire, the setting of much of his early poetry. Since 1977 he has lived in Edinburgh, and his poetry has been widely anthologised and translated. A recipient of several awards, Conn is a judge for the Edwin Morgan Award, the winner of which will be announced in August 2014.