VISITORS to this weekend’s Boswell Book Festival at Dumfries House may well a catch a glimpse of the A-Frame, the spectacular monument to the Ayrshire mining industry. Rab Wilson’s poem recalls a legendary moment at the former Barony pit.


(A legend o the Barony Colliery)

The Great Stariski maks his entrance bow,

Poised oan the Cross-beam o the vast ‘A’ Frame;

He aiblins sees imaginary crowds,

Gawpin at his daith-defyin stunts.

Mair’s a hunner feet up in the air,

Nae spider’s wab o safety-net is strung,

Tae sauf him frae unsocht oblivion.

The Great Stariski luiks tae aa the airts,

Sic magick tricks depend upon their ritual,

An curtly bobs tae each pynt o the compass;

Tae the north, Ben Lomond’s silhouette,

Tae the west, Goat Fell oan Arran’s isle,

Tae the east, ayont Muirkirk, Cairn Table,

Tae the sooth, Sweet Afton’s bonny glen.

The Great Stariski birls an pirouettes,

Then, tae admirin glances frae ablow,

Syne gangs tapselteerie, heelstergoudie,

Stauns oan his haunds, disdainfu o the risks,

An lauchs oot lood in life-affirmin joy

At aa thae wee black specks doun oan the grunnd.

The Great Stariski, balanced oan his girder,

Seems tentless o his parlous circumstance;

Up here he’s free, can rax an touch the heivins,

An feel the wuin an rain upon his face.

The Great Stariski leeves athin the moment,

Taks in his queer inversion o the warld,

Syne wi some skeelie dancer’s gracefu mien,

Lichtlies doun as saft as thistledown;

Dichts doun his stoorie, creashy overalls,

Sets at a jaunty sklent his auld pit helmet,

Recoups his yirdlie equilibrium,

Descends the ledder – an’s mortal aince agane.