The Marble Quarry

For the second time in fifty years
I come to the Marble Quarry.
Last time, a boy, I came with my father.
Now I am here with my son.
Afternoon heat streams from the marble,
White light chipped from the earth.
At the quarry’s hoist and jetty
Underwater abandoned altars,
Veined slabs, shine through the waves.
We eye up shards among the scarred,
Discarded blocks. I tell my son
How my dad handed me a monumental
Offcut, heavy as an unfinished temple.
We scour what’s left. I pick a piece
That fits my hand, and hand it to him
Gingerly. It fits his hand too.


Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford was born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, in 1959. He has published seven collections of poetry, including 'Full Volume' (Cape, 2008) and the collaboration 'Simonides' (Easel Press, 2011) with the photographer Norman McBeath. Five of his collections have been Poetry Book Society Recommendations and he has won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award. Recently 'Simonides' has been the subject of an exhibition which has toured in Britain and the United States and will be shown at the Poetry Foundation, Chicago, this Fall. His prose books include 'The Bard' (Cape, 2009), a biography of Robert Burns, and 'On Glasgow and Edinburgh' (Belknap Press, 2013). With Mick Imlah he edited 'The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse' (2000), now in Penguin Classics. He lives in St Andrews where he is Professor of Modern Scottish Literature and Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Poetry at the university. He is married to Alice Crawford, a librarian working in the digital humanities, who is a graduate of the University of Sheffield.