WEEK SIX AND A HALF – The Kelpies/Little Sparta

>> The Kelpies

Little Sparta <<

The-Kelpies-3-720x432                           Litle Sparta

In this, the second of our special mid-week postings – this time in honour of the StAnza Festival, currently taking place in St Andrews – we celebrate the first Scotia Extremis poetry-related theme. The link between the themes, however, both poetry and visual art – we bring you two art works in landscape settings, contrasting both in scale and in content. Ian Hamilton Finlay created Little Sparta in the Pentland Hills over 40 years. The garden is an artistic fusion of poetic and sculptural elements with those of the natural landscape and holds over 275 individual art works. It has been described as ‘a deliberate correction of the modern sculpture garden’ and is very much a place provocative of contemplation. The Kelpies, Scotland’s latest piece of public art and the largest equine sculptures in the world, constitute a dramatic and imposing memorial. Constructed as part of the restoration of the Forth-Clyde Canal, sculptor Andy Scott’s huge horses’ heads are modelled on the heavy horses who powered canal traffic in its heyday, and are enhanced by the words of Glasgow Poet Laureate Jim Carruth evoking the legacy of those same working horses. Visible for miles, they have rapidly become a major tourist attraction.


The Kelpies
by Lesley Glaister

At six I joined the Brownies,
wanted to be a Sprite, Elf or Pixie
but was picked to join the Kelpies.
Never heard of a kelpie,

imagined it to be mean, slight,
pointed, thimble-wee,
a Scottish fairy no one knew, a nonentity.
I took it personally.

But now I’ve seen The Kelpies
rise and gleam and they are massive,
Scottish spirits fused of steel and air
with necks that arch and rear,

not mean wee fairy folk, not slight:
proud silver shocks of strength and light.

Little Sparta (Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Garden)
by Hamish Whyte


thistles first
        on the path
                  to the long gate

        the enclosed space
                  anthology of dug and planted

words on stone
        stones on grass
                  boat on water

gods abound
        but the greatest
                  is paronomasia

                  it’s all translation

in this Arcadia
        the bird table
                  is an aircraft carrier

(though the whirly’s
        a whirly

with abandoned clothespegs
        and there’s kail
                  in the kailyard)

an epicure’s delight
        pure dead

ultimately dissolving
        in the noise
                  of tree shells

or is it the hiss
        of the guillotine’s

in a field beyond the fence
        a farmer’s put a crow
                  in a cage



New to poetry writing, Lesley Glaister has written thirteen novels, the most recent, LittleOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Egypt, to be published by Salt in 2014. Her stories have been anthologised and broadcast on Radio 4. She has written drama for radio and stage.  Visiting the Animal (Mariscat) is her first poetry collection.  Lesley is a Fellow of the RSL, teaches creative writing at the University of St Andrews and lives in Edinburgh.

Hamish Whyte is a poet, editor and publisher. He runs Mariscat Press which won the 2015hamish whyte Michael Marks Award for poetry pamphlet publishing. His most recent collection is Hannah, are you listening? (Happenstance Press) and a new collection is due from Shoestring Press in the autumn. He lives in Edinburgh and is a member of the city’s Shore Poets group.


Images courtesy of;
Visit Scotland https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Kelpies-3-720×432.jpg
Glasgow Review of Books https://thegrb.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/dsc_0435.jpg
Lesley Glaister image courtesy of Hebe

One thought on “WEEK SIX AND A HALF – The Kelpies/Little Sparta

  1. I am really enjoying these VERY much. It’s a brilliant concept and it’s working SO well.
    Looking forward to the next.
    Stephen Keeler

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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