The place was a poetry meeting in St Andrews; the time more than a decade ago. The audience watched, bemused/amused, while the distinguished poet set fire to the slip of paper in his hand, a copy of the poem below.

It was a playful gesture of complaint about the poem's popularity; it certainly catches that dourness in the face of beauty or good fortune that can be a characteristic of the Scottish psyche.

Alastair Reid, born in Whithorn in 1926, died in Manhattan in 2014, was a fascinating character, for decades a New Yorker essayist, champion of Borges and Neruda, as well as being himself a notable poet.

It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,

when larks rose on long thin strands of singing

and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.

Greenness entered the body. The grasses

shivered with presences, and sunlight

stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.

Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,

the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'

cried I, like a sunstruck madman.

And what did she have to say for it?

Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves

as she spoke with their ancient misery:

'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'