Anti-capitalist is first woman to be honoured on Canongate Wall

A MILL worker who said her life's ambition was "to destroy the capitalist system" has become the first woman to be quoted on the Canongate Wall of the Parliament building in Edinburgh.

A verse in Scots by communist poet Mary Brooksbank, which reads "Them that works the hardest are the least provided", will be one of two new engraved verses mounted to mark the tenth anniversary of the Parliament.

The other quotation, from A Man in Assynt by Norman MacCaig, anticipates the battle for land reform, asking: "Who owns this landscape? … False questions, for this landscape is masterless and intractable."

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Robin Harper MSP, who chaired the panel that selected the additions to the Canongate Wall, said: "I am delighted with the choice."

The verse from Brooksbank's Oh Dear Me (A Mill Song), tells of daily life in the jute mill, where she went to work in 1912 at 15. She wanted to be a teacher – but had to leave school to support her family. She became an active trade unionist and a member of the communist party, who was jailed three times for her political activities.

Mr Harper, once a folk singer, said he had fond memories of performing the song, thought to have been written in the 1920s.

He said he was also delighted with lines from Norman MacCaig, an Edinburgh poet who described himself as a "Zen Calvinist".

Among the 24 quotations already on the wall are ones from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and Hugh MacDiarmid.

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