Poem introduction

In my first book [I had] a lot of poems about Scottish scientists and I decided eventually that what I really wanted was for Einstein to have been Scottish – and in some ways this didn’t seem entirely a bad idea. The word ‘alba’ is an old word sometimes used of the area of the earth that we now call Scotland, and this poem’s called ‘Alba Einstein’.

Alba Einstein

When proof of Einstein’s Glaswegian birth
First hit the media everything else was dropped:
Logie Baird, Dundee painters, David Hume – all
Got the big E. Physics documentaries
Became peak-viewing; Scots publishers hurled awa
MacDiarmid like an overbaked potato, and swooped
On the memorabilia: Einstein Used My Fruitshop,
Einstein in Old Postcards, Einstein’s Bearsden Relatives.
Hot on their heels came the A. E. Fun Park,
Quantum Court, Glen Einstein Highland Malt.
Glasgow was booming. Scotland rose to its feet
At Albert Suppers where The Toast to the General Theory
Was given by footballers, panto-dames, or restaurateurs.
In the US an ageing lab-technician recorded
How the Great Man when excited showed a telltale glottal stop.
He’d loved fiddlers’ rallies. His favourite sport was curling.
Thanks to this, Scottish business expanded
Endlessly. His head grew toby-jug-shaped,
Ideal for keyrings. He’d always worn brogues.
Ate bannocks in exile. As a wee boy he’d read The Beano.
His name brought new energy. Our culture was solidly based
On pride in our hero, The Universal Scot.


from Selected Poems (Cape, 2005), first published in A Scottish Assembly (Chatto & Windus 1990), © Robert Crawford 1990, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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Robert Crawford

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1Advice

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2Ah Waant

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3Alba Einstein

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4Anne of Green Gables

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5Camera Obscura

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6Chaps

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7Clan Donald's Call to Battle at Harlaw

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8Credo

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9Daveheart

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10Declaration

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11Fiat Lux

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12God Save The King

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13Guide

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14Levity

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15Mons Meg

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16Nightingale Floor

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17Opera

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18Persian

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19Reveille

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20Rounding

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21Scotch Broth

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22Scotland

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23Spartan War Dead, Thermopylae

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24St Andrews

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25The Criticism

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26Total

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27Us

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28Writer

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