Day Two Hundred and Six: Water

In a struggle to find inspiration I turned to Douglas Dunn’s anthology of Twentieth Century Scottish Poetry. Granted, it’s one of the texts from Scottish literature last year, but it’s a pretty decent collection.

I’ve neglected reading anything by one of our greatest writers – Iain Crichton Smith. I couldn’t find this one anywhere online, so I’ve transcribed it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

A glass of water

The Glass of Water
by Iain Crichton Smith

My hand is blazing on the cold tumbler.
My eye looks through it to the other side.
If it were what is real, if it were heaven
how I corrupt it with my worn flesh.
How its neutrality is aggrandised
by fever and by empire. I constrain
and grasp this parish which is pastoral.

To be pure is not difficult, it’s impossible.
How could the saint work to this poverty,
this unassumingness, this transparency?
How could his levels be so wholly calm?
The fact of water is unteachable.
It’s less and more than honour standing up
invulnerable in its vulnerable glass.

Something as good as this often makes me re-evaluate how good I am, if I’ll ever obtain that level of quality, and if it’s even worth trying.


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