Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

The Queen of Sheba/Kathleen Jamie

The Scottish Poetry Library has a delightful programme of publishing a set of postcards every six months, each featuring different poems or excerpts from them. One of the first I picked up when I came to Edinburgh was the wonderful, rhythmic, life-affirming piece below… but by some administrative quirk the name of the poet had been left off the card. When I got around to googling part of a verse, I was thrilled to discover that it’s by Kathleen Jamie, of whose prose I was already a huge admirer. Today is definitely the kind of day where life-affirming is called for, so this, nicked from the SPL website, is an excerpt from The Queen of Sheba:

she wants to strip the willow
she desires the keys
to the National Library
she is beckoning
the lasses
in the awestruck crowd…

Yes, we’d like to
clap the camels,
to smell the spice,
admire her hairy legs and
bonny wicked smile, we want to take
PhDs in Persian, be vice
to her president: we want
to help her
ask some Difficult Questions

she’s shouting for our wisest man
to test her mettle:

Scour Scotland for a Solomon!

Sure enough: from the back of the crowd
someone growls:
whae do you think y’ur?

and a thousand laughing girls and she
draw our hot breath
and shout


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This entry was posted on May 1, 2013 by in Books, Britain, Edinburgh, Women and Feminism and tagged , , , , .
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