Sunday, 19 August 2012
Such dusky grandeur clothed the height
Where the huge castle holds its state
And all the steep slope down
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky
Piled deep and massy, close and high,
Mine own romantic town!
At school the windows in my history classroom looked right out onto the crags and Edinburgh castle. My awesome teacher had pinned Walter Scott's poem above right next to it. That was the great thing about him, he was always setting up connections in our brains between history, poetry, theatre, art, so that eventually we'd come across a point in our own lives and go 'Ah. That's what he meant.'
This week I started an internship at the European Parliament, right next to the Scottish Parliament building, and it struck me that the poem could be describing that landmark too. The building has been surrounded in controversy, partly because it exceeded its budget terribly, partly because many people just don't like it.
Maybe it's having an architect for a father, but I love it. It seems to grow organically out of the volcanic rock of Arthur's Seat, utterly modern and yet somehow primordial at the same time. Isn't that just what a parliament should be? It eases itself into the landscape, so on sunny days the stone benches, nooks and crannies, grassy ledges and shallow pools are full of people relaxing and playing. It's both imposing and inviting, and that is no mean feat.