Whan they telt me
We sat oot gabbin
Till the cauld
Peep o day.
An sae, ma auld
Ye got seik
And noo ye’re someplace
Deid in the grun –
But thae sangs, aa
Yon nichtingales o yourn
Lik they sounded
When we set oot
An sat oot,
Twa young men.
Daith taks the lot,
Than Orpheus befor Pluto sat doune,
And in his handis quhyte his harp can ta …
Henryson, ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’
The day you died I stared up at the grey
Dome of St Paul’s, then caught the sleeper north,
Dourly imagining your own departure
From London as your last, pained way to stay
Elusive, Mick, Oxonian Aberdonian,
Sly Doric fitted up by your posh voice,
Your sports-star, film noir, flâneur’s loucheness spooked
By the meth-kissed phantom City of Dreadful Night.
I have your stoic email, a few postcards’
Nibwork. When I think of your dark ink,
What flits back is the sound of a Fife blackbird
Singing the day I first heard you were ill –
One drop-dead Orpheus; though I could not spot it,
And when I tried to, then its song just stopped.