Around the darkened stone of his exterior
Erect a scaffold made of pipe and wood

Clean the shell that shelters his interior
Until his golden surfaces come good

Steam the grime of each benighted era
Off, and leave unblemished skin behind

Each blast of scalding water brings him nearer
What his architect once had in mind

Remove the soot that renders him inferior
And scrape the grit that’s gripping at his soul

From high upon your scaffolding, it’s clearer
Just how much is rock, and how much coal.


2 September 2006 · Whatever

I have now read this about ten times. I really like it.

(You can't have been here during the first wave of stonecleaning in the eighties, can you? But it was exactly like that.)

Added by K on 5 September 2006.

Thanks, K. After six weeks of writing and reading this I’d almost forgotten about its literal meaning.

Yes, I was here during the first wave—my first visit to Britain (including Edinburgh) was the winter of 1985-86, so my earliest memories of Britain are shrouded in scaffolding. And Glasgow was a lot blacker when I first visited it in 1992.

Added by Rory on 5 September 2006.

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