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This Queen of cities
Wears a jewel encrusted crown;
While others reach towards the sky
And raise a multitude of hands
To claim attention and respect,
Elbowing their neighbours,
Shouting their names,
The Gherkins and the Shards,
With mirrored glass,
And ever-changing shapes;
This Kirk, this High Kirk,
Keeps its nerve, unwavering,
Confident in itself,
No need to shout
Above the crowd,
Precisely set upon the
Monumental Tower,
Its floating arches,
Welcoming the light,
See the morning garnets flash,
The amethysts at sunset,
The iridescent pearling light
Of flat Edinburgh afternoons;
Resolute, it holds its place,
Self-assured and grounded;
A People’s Crown,
After all.


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Behind the Picture-Poem

St Giles’ Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is the principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh. Its distinctive crown steeple is a prominent feature of the city skyline. The building is situated roughly one-third of the way down the Royal Mile (which runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace). The crown steeple (or crown spire) was built in 1495, and takes the form of a traditional church steeple, in which curved stone flying buttresses combine to replicate the open shape of a rounded crown.  
The Scottish crown dates from 1540, having been made from Scottish gold melted down from a previous crown. It was first used when James V wore it for the coronation of his second Queen, Marie de Guise, the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. It is encrusted with 20 precious stones and 22 gemstones, along with Scottish freshwater pearls.

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