Poetic response to helicopter tragedy

Politics is customarily a prosaic business, dealing more commonly with questions and queries rather than death and disaster.

To their enormous credit, MSPs today found poetic inspiration as they responded to the helicopter tragedy in Glasgow.

Yes, there will be questions to follow as the detailed investigations conclude. But not today. Not at this hour.

For now, each MSP who spoke took inspiration from the indomitable spirit of the people of Glasgow: a courage and determination much tested but never found wanting.

Alex Salmond talked of the "instinctive courage" of Glaswegians. Johann Lamont evoked the "frailty and strength" which she found combined in the disaster and its aftermath: the very core of common humanity.

Ruth Davidson listed a series of tragedies which had beset the people of this land in the past. How, she asked, did people respond - before answering her own question: "In Scotland, we pull together".

We heard too from Alison McInnes of the Liberal Democrats, Patrick Harvie of the Greens and constituency member Sandra White.

Earlier, the Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick had opened a Parliamentary book of condolence - and led tributes to the emergency services and others who had coped with tragedy. After the words, a respectful queue formed to add names.

At the scene in Glasgow, the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg offered sympathy on behalf of the UK government.

What to add? Perhaps these lines from Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality".

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now forever taken from my sight.

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower.

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind.