Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015)

Claudia Alonso, Jackie Kay, 2015. Digital Photograph. Image courtesy of the artist.

A Lang Promise – Chancellor Jackie Kay

Professor Jackie Kay CBE, University Chancellor and Scots Makar, is sharing a series of poems with colleagues, students and members of the public, reflecting on the current period of uncertainty that we are in.

This week, Jackie shares her poem ‘A Lang Promise’, which is a love poem, originally published in BANTAM (2017). Jackie describes this poem as being about ‘loving somebody under any circumstances’. 

‘A Lang Promise’

Whether the weather be dreich or fair, my luve,

if guid times greet us, or we hae tae face the worst,

ahint and afore whit will happen tae us:

blind in the present, eyes open to the furore,

unkempt or perjink, suddenly puir or poorly,

peely-wally or in fine fettle, beld or frosty,

calm as a ghoul or in a feery-farry,

in dork December or in springy spring weather,

doon by the Barrows, on the Champs-Elysees,

at midnicht, first licht, whether the mune

be roond or crescent, and yer o’ soond mind

or absent, I’ll tak your trusty haun

and lead you over the haw – hame, ma darlin.

I’ll carry ma lantern, and daur defend ye agin ony foe;

and whilst there is breath in me, I’ll blaw it intae ye.

Fir ye are ma true luve, the bonnie face I see;

nichts I fall intae slumber, it’s ye swimming up

in all yer guidness and blitheness, yer passion.

You’ll be mine, noo, an’ till the end o’ time,

ma bonnie lassie, I’ll tak the full guid o’ ye’ 

and gie it back, and gie it back tae ye:

a furst kiss, a lang promise, time’s gowden ring.

Published in BANTAM, reprinted with kind permission of Picador Publishers.

Don’t miss Jackie’s new weekly series of online literary and musical performances. ‘Makar to Makar’ will showcase a line-up of established talent and emerging voices from Scotland and around the world. Read more about ‘Makar to Makar’ here.

Follow Jackie on Twitter @JackieKayPoet to hear a new poem every Sunday.