MAKAR Jackie Kay penned an incredible poem to mark the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament.

It was given it first ever public reading at a ceremony in Holyrood on Saturday afternoon. 

The Queen, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, who holds the title of the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, addressed MSPs with a speech in the chamber.

The chamber has also heard from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour's Richard Leonard, Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie and LibDem MSP Tavish Scott.

READ MORE: Holyrood 20th anniversary: Queen urges MSPs to 'strengthen bonds'


When you were born, my daughter, my son
The half-moon grinned and the sun shone

You came after a long song of a labour  
Of years and years – and then some!

It was July when you at last appeared, hanselled
With the mace from her Majesty – Ma’am, Good Day – 

bright eyed, flushed, newest day!
And the crags at your tiny feet, and Arthur’s seat.

When you were born, bairn,
Red Arrows flew over your city

And everyone you met, Pet,
Wanted to join you on your journey – 

Between the lochs and the ferns
Between the braes and the bens

Between the crofts and the bothies
Between the Rowans and the pines.

Between the high rise and the tenements
And the Wimpey houses in the big cities

Between the north and the south, the east and the west,
And the land and the seas…


Now: I know of someone in Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan
Who remembers an old Kilchoan man

Saying that he remembers an old Kilchoan woman
Who had once seen all the houses ablaze

And these were the first of your days:
Stories to keep the past alive,

A poem read aloud to knock the future’s door.
A song sung by Sheena Wellington, for a’ that.

You’re twenty now. We’re couldn’t be prouder.
Look how you’ve grown in stature:

‘This is about who we are, how we carry ourselves,’
your godfather’s premonition, the day you were born.

We are not a people that takes to the compliment well.
Put it this way – you’re twenty! You’ve carried yourself well.


Twenty years on, what can I tell you about your birth?
Your birth was a process not an event –

Your wee form emerged between the land and the stone;
A citizen already sitting, seen through the portal.

And the boats carried you out to sea – to see what you could see,
And back to the land, to the bottom of The Royal Mile.

Every way you turned, your smile made others smile;
And, if at first you faced ridicule, and some were hostile,

You held your own and carried on! Ground breaking land reform!
First up with the smoking ban … and on, on.

Remember the jubilation when same sex marriage passed?
When Clause 28 was opposed?

Look how you shone the light on
The darkness of abuse, how you had such a clear vision;

How you let Auld Scotland out
And Modern Scotland in, first footing.

Nane for thee a thouchtie sparin
Earth thou bonnie broukit bairn!

You knew what was right and what was wrong.
And oh, how your citizens sang their song:


Under the Common Weal, weel, weel
Under the Common Weal, we’ll thrive

Oh, it was a braw, bricht day when you arrived, alive!
Wee wean, under the common sun, doon,

Where you’d been coorie-ing doon, coorie-ing doon,

Under democracy’s moon
Wee wean, hoping that aw’thin wuid be fine

And you’d get to tell yer story, wee wean

Who kent awready whit was richt an whit was wrang

Wee wean,
Look how you’ve grown up michty fine

Oh ma darlin, you’ll aye be ma trusty fiere
When the dorkness descends,

When the MacPhees roar an the lochans sing, wee wean,
And ye sing tae mak the wurld a better place.

And Oh ma Country, ma country,
you will ayeways be loved and respected by me.

Loved and respected by me.
Oh, my country, my country…


Scotland itself is my country, said Sorley MacLean.
My other country is Ireland

And after it, France, our great Gaelic bard said plainly.
And if he were still alive today, maybe

He’d have been compelled to name
The other twenty-five countries.


Scotland itself is my country
And twenty years on, my country has changed!

I remember it once being a country I ran from,
In those days, you felt unwelcome.

You passed. You pretended. You kept your mouth shut
Unless you sang sing if you’re glad to be gay, sing if you’re happy that way…

And now – look – Old Scotland is no more.
Gay men kiss at the Parliament’s door.


Hope travels all the way round the world.
Hope has people it wants to meet, hands to shake

Hope flies to New Zealand, to the South Island in solidarity
Hope wears a hijab and speaks out against hate.        

Hope comes home – finds a hearth, a country ahead of its time,
looking out across the lands and the years

Across the cold North Sea, where the waves knit in plain and purl,
Is a country to sign you a lullaby, a country to rock you awake.


My country has started to speak my language
And I am no longer alone

I used to feel a foreigner in my own land
I used to feel not at home

I used to be a stranger in the mirror
I used to talk to the hand because the mouth wasn’t listening

And now you get what I’m saying
How difficult it is for me on some occasions

But these days, you’re listening up
And I am not cordoned off

The door’s open and I’ve come ben this bonny chamber
A nod to you two, and you and you and you for taking the long view

And the mountains are speechless
If what they say cannot be understood
And the many-voiced ocean is silent
If no one knows its language

It must be a bizarre thing being in the same room
As all these people who share the same birthday as you!

Everybody dressed up and looking so fine;
And when you were born, Nicola,

In the middle of the day between Wimbledon
And the opening of Scottish Parliament

You were induced. It was a quick birth.
And your gran jumped over a wall to tell all you were a girl.

And the Hielin cow jumped over the moon,
And the dish ran awa wey the widdin spune!

And you are the future: Parliament’s bairns.
Sworn in that hot July day in 99.

The grass is greener in Scotland, Callum said.
The milk is better and the people friendlier, Nicola said.

It’s nice that people can be themselves, Megan said,
And not be afraid.

I’m excited said Alicja Hertmanowska
In her Dear Scottish Parliament Letter

To see what the future brings
Here’s to the next twenty years!

Under the Common Weal, we’re taking the long view.

Under the Common Weal, we’re taking the long view

Under the Common Weal, weel, weel, we’re taking the long view.