Stirling Sonnets



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A collection of sonnets by James Robertson, with illustrations by Owain Kirby, published in association with the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

"When the National Audit of Scotland's museums was announced by the Scottish Executive, we thought it would be a good opportunity for a poet to take stock of the Stirling Smith and its collection to complement the curatorial inventory.

"We are fortunate that Dr James Robertson, one of the most dynamic and eloquent writers in Scotland today, rose to the challenge. Raised in Bridge of Allan, he has known the Smith since childhood, and brings his own personal experience and reflection .... The profundity of James's words is matched by the linocut illustrations of Owain Kirby.... Designed by Bruce Design, this booklet is truly a Stirling production which we hope will add to the reader's understanding and appreciation of the collections of the Stirling Smith and the enjoyment of museum collections everywhere."
[Extract from introduction by Elspeth King- Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Musueum]

You can view more of Owain Kirby's illustration work in lino-cut at


A visit to the Smith, one wet weekend.
At twenty-four, Lou's past his halfway mark.
It's January, the afternoon grows dark.kidnapped
Deep down he knows his health will never mend.
Two brothers, rivals for one woman's hand -
 (his mind begins to race) -
shipwreck - a bonnie fight - A Highland chase...
he's stolen off into another land.
There is so much to do, in so few years:
to walk again by lovely Allanside,
to fall in love, to work, to stay alive,
to see the world before it disappears....
Living is Alan Breck, death's Mr Hyde.
Travel in hope, despair when you arrive.
Castle Incident, c.1540
This hinner day at fitbaw whit a clamour -
a grievous thing befell big Geordie Lang.
Ettlin tae dunt the baw he wis ower strang
and fired it heich abune oor guid Queen's chaumer.
Says Maister Sime, 'Thon's mine, ye muckle ox,
it tuik ma mither fower lang nichts tae steek it.
Awa an get it back, I'll haud yer jaiket.
It maun be stickit there amang the bauks.'
George fetched a ladder, but the tapmaist rung
bruk aff an doun he fell upon his heid,
richt tae his oxters in the royal dung.
We pu'd him oot, but Geordie Lang wis died.
Sae wis oor sport - we had nae hert tae play it,
forby nae baw: wha funs thon nou can hae it.



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