Dear Scotland referendum

Dear Scotland. . . the Sculptures at Glenkiln


Peter Gaskell pays tribute in verse to the sculptures at Glenkiln




Naked with hand raised and beckoning,

Rodin’s John the Baptist strides forward

across the moorland,

his posture seeming

an urgent effort to communicate,

as if perhaps summoning the people of Albany,

for the advent of their redemption.


The earnest pose of Epstein’s Visitation

is an odd surprise

as we come across Mary,

the Redeemer’s mother among some trees

telling her cousin, the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth,

of her pregnancy.


It was my cousin Elizabeth,

herself fashioned by the Auchenbrack of Dumfries and Galloway,

who took us, my old father and I, to Glenkiln,

proud to show off the first sculptures by contemporary artists

placed anywhere in the landscape of Albion.


Now they are gone, and the moorland stands denuded

of features it took decades to settle and absorb.

Their owner removed the statues,

after the Standing Figure by Henry Moore

was plundered from its plinth.

A cultural desecration is the heritage

their thieves left behind.


It had been a bold move to situate them there.

In Wales, our Rodins and Epsteins are museumed,

safe from the clutch of cultural criminals who would rob us of our heritage.

The expansive moorland around Glenkiln lies shrunken back,

as if it has been raped and takes the blame

or feels the shame

of no being longer connected

to a broader cultural dimension.


Sadly, our Scottish cousins have paid dearly

for their generosity of spirit.

This time then, dear cousins, when it is the political landscape

that takes forward your purposeful stride

(whichever its direction – yea or nay)

take pride to express what is best in you, and heed

lest the asset-strippers that prowl your culture

disconnect you from the rest of us.