This was the hat in which he stored
his head, his genius,
the images he’d made of what
he’d seen of us,
each note and chord there
beneath the hat he wore
on the head that wore the crown.
This was the hat he gave
to me outside Earl’s Court,
silently removed and offered it
as gift in a sad ritual of exchange, that hat he wore on the cover of Desire.
When I asked if I could have it
off it came, no hesitation,
no showboating smile or grandiose
gesture just gave it over,
wordless, unrushed, in the breezeless summer of ‘ 78.
This was the hat that held in place
the crazy plate which span out
lines and filaments and memory
and tribute to the love
when he’d stayed up for days
in the Chelsea Hotel
writing Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for her.
’This one’s for you Sarah’,
he said right after laying down the track,
’and this one’s for you Jim Gilpin’
his eyes said after handing over
the hat he wore,
the hat in which he stored himself
each line a thread
from his universal head.
Stuart, one of Scotland's best-known poets of the past 30 years and author of several collections, lives by the beautiful Solway Coast in Galloway, south-west Scotland. BBC Scotland's Poet in Residence 2017-18, he has written and broadcast many nationally commissioned poems. Stuart writes both in English and his native Scots language. In 2020 he was publicly voted Scotland's Scots Writer of the Year and in 2021 he wrote acclaimed national advertising poems for Scottish Water, Lidl UK, Age Scotland and The Nevis Ensemble, 'Scotland's Street Orchestra'. In 2020 his Collected Scots Poems received one of the first ever seven Scottish Government Scots Language Publication awards and will be published in autumn 2022.