What they are saying about Ploughman

September, 2007 Best Scottish Poem.

"A unanimous winner."


Ploughman has had a considerable impact internationally. It's simple theme carries a powerful message and it is truly deserving of the title, ''A Poem for Scotland''. RT Hon Alex Salmond MSP

"You have a talent that crosses continents, and I'm proud to add my name to your list of admirers." Dame Judi Dench

"Three cheers for my colleague Scott Martin, whose poetry identifies his as one born with original virtue rather than original sin. This makes him one in about ten thousand!". Kurt Vonnegut

"We (The Judges) were all quite certain of the caliber and talent behind the winning work." Douglas Dunn, Professor of Poetry, St Andrews University on 'Ploughman, A Poem for Scotland'

Chosen as the winner of A Poem for Scotland, an open International Competition to find a poem which would mark the last St Andrew's Day before the new millennium and the inauguration of The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The entries, over one hundred of them, were submitted to the judging panel anonymously. Ploughman was the unanimous winner.

The poem was reinstated into The Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh during an official ceremony on April 19, 2006. Only one of two permanent works to feature within the building, as well as in many prestigious sites in the UK, Europe and around the world.

"We have now entered this (Ploughman) as part of our collection." Alan L. Carswell, Curator of the National War Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle

Joy BirdJoy Bird Scottish artist and musician Joy Bird of Dundee band Bird Dogs, has completed a painting, based on Ploughman. Prints of the painting now accompany the poem wherever and to whomsoever it goes, throughout UK, Europe and the world.

Photograph credit of Scott:
Irvine Miskell-Reid

Flying Rampart

Ploughman, A Poem for Scotland

by Scott Martin

The year was 1941, my father told me,
And by moonlight, as he ploughed the field,
Plough and harness a dull grey silver
The dark clouds parted, and revealed
Nazi bombers, bound for Clydebank,
High above over Abernyte,
The boy below, frozen in furrow
Reins in hand, awed by the sight.

I never thought he was the weaker,
In the face of brutality he never bowed down
And the boy, with the horse and the plough, entrusted,
Ploughed his seed into the ground.

I saw a man, just like my father,
In a field planting rice, in Vietnam.
So small he looked, against the bombers,
In the face of vain strength, a resolute man,
A ploughman, like my father
And a man of the land,
Although cultures divide them,
Together they stand.

In Bosnia, I saw the children who fled,
Their homes destroyed, their parents dead.
Their fields unploughed and the seeds unsown,
Their graves unmarked and their names unknown.

They spoke to me of the moonlight man,
Standing alone, with horse and plough,
More than speeches or politicians,
He led the way, he showed me how,
That to stand alone is no great shame
If something is taken in another’s name.
And remember, always, that you are a man
And the reins are held in your own hand
And that children are seeds as yet unsown,
Who may, come the harvest, be your own.

Presentation from Sir David Steel

Left to right: Kate McLean msp, Mrs Tricia Anderson, Scott Martin, David Finlay, Neil Anderson of Pagan Osborne, Sir David Steel, Isla McLean Johnstone, Joy Bird, Stewart Ivins. Below: The Ploughman, painted by Joy Bird

The Ploughman painting by Joy Bird

The Ploughman poem has been translated into several different languages, including French by Isabelle Gourdin, German by Knut Radmer. Also Arabic, Polish, Hebrew and Scot's Gaelic.