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MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... mention, for instance, of those quarrels with younger writers such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, and the Edwin Morgan who is in some ways MacDiarmid’s literary heir. It does seem untrue to say that ‘as for MacDiarmid’s legacy, it has to be confined to his own achievement.’ MacDiarmid’s legacy seems present even in the work of those who were still ...

Drinking and Spewing

Sally Mapstone: The Variousness of Robert Fergusson, 25 September 2003

‘Heaven-Taught Fergusson’: Robert Burns’s Favourite Scottish Poet 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Tuckwell, 240 pp., £14.99, August 2002, 1 86232 201 5
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... Fergusson’ are interspersed with poems on him by, among others, Kathleen Jamie, Edwin Morgan and Les Murray. This is an elegant echo of Ruddiman’s Weekly Magazine, in which many of Fergusson’s poems first appeared, and where verse was juxtaposed with essays, articles and correspondence. Fergusson is much admired by other poets ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue, 7 November 1985

Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... we make our unfresh starts And share our instant chronicles. It’s your turn now. Edwin Morgan takes his turn with some flamboyance. His poems imagine things you wouldn’t think it necessary to imagine except to demonstrate what the mind can do, given half a chance. Imagine your flat is burgled, the burglar has cut his hand breaking the ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter, 6 October 2011

The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... Not that he couldn’t do other voices. A bit like his more experimental contemporary, the late Edwin Morgan, another poet whose work catches the 1960s and 1970s splendidly, Porter enjoyed making poems that were consciously artificial – constructed – in their voicing. The best known of these is ‘Your Attention Please’, written in the flat tones ...

Unaccountables

Donald Davie, 7 March 1985

The Letters of Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 910 pp., £20, August 1984, 0 241 11220 6
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Between Moon and Moon: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1946-1972 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 323 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 9780091557508
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... judgments, and means that if you scratched his back, he was under no obligation to scratch yours: Edwin Morgan, Robert Garioch and Ian Hamilton Finlay are three Scottish poets whose work he dismisses where he might have been expected, if only for tactical reasons, to approve it. It is the same with Scottish literature of the past. MacDiarmid is almost ...

War Poet

Robert Crawford, 24 May 1990

O Choille gu Bearradh/From Wood to Ridge: Collected Poems in Gaelic and English 
by Sorley MacLean.
Carcanet, 317 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 844 4
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... of the desert war in the work of such Scottish poets as George Campbell Hay, Hamish Henderson and Edwin Morgan. There is a pained, grim quality to some of MacLean’s verse – seen in the impulse which leads him to translate the first 26 lines of Paradise Lost into Gaelic, appending after the last line (‘And justify the ways of God to men’) the date ...

Ecclefechan and the Stars

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... of modern Scottish culture has been the ease with which it is able to make the transition, in Edwin Morgan’s terms, from Glasgow to Saturn. What MacDiarmid wrote is the poetry of Very Large Array. Acutely, Davie relates the Drunk Man’s intellectual and sexual relationship with Jean to the comparative method of moving beyond the limitations of ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 4 December 2014

Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... nomen (‘I do not mean Hugh MacDiarmid’). Other Scottish writers were touchy subjects too: Edwin Morgan (‘Yeddie’) was a figure of suspicion, hitching a ride on the concrete bandwagon while blackening Finlay’s name as an ‘impossible’ person to the BBC and the Arts Council, though when Morgan proposed ...

What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham, 18 July 2019

W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
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W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
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... did it partly under the auspices of Eliot’s poem. What The Waste Land showed, he explained to Edwin Morgan, was the way a long poem can create a ‘massive montage of one … theme upon another’. Graham really had only two preoccupations, Morgan wrote in a review of the Collected Poems: one was ‘trying to ...

Anglophobe Version

Denton Fox, 2 February 1984

The New Testament in Scots 
translated by William Laughton Lorimer.
Canongate, 476 pp., £17.50, October 1983, 0 900025 24 7
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Scotland and the Lowland Tongue 
edited by J. Derrick McClure.
Aberdeen University Press, 256 pp., £17, September 1983, 0 08 028482 5
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... each poem will justify – or not justify – its individual language. A new accent is added by Edwin Morgan, himself a distinguished poet, whether writing in English, Scots or Computerese. He argues that though the language of Glasgow is traditionally condemned as an ‘impoverished and bastardised Scots’, it is in fact ‘the rural dialects of ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... margin, is far from being a stranger to mainstream anthologies, while Basil Bunting, Dylan Thomas, Edwin Morgan, R.S. Thomas, Iain Crichton Smith, Thom Gunn, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig are unassailably part of our consciousness of the poetic landscape. Auden and MacNeice, too, though the omission in both books of Stephen Spender suggests that he ...

When were you thinking of shooting yourself?

Sophie Pinkham: Mayakovsky, 16 February 2017

Mayakovsky: A Biography 
by Bengt Jangfeldt, translated by Harry Watson.
Chicago, 616 pp., £26.50, January 2015, 978 0 226 05697 5
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Volodya: Selected Works 
by Vladimir Mayakovsky, edited by Rosy Carrick.
Enitharmon, 312 pp., £14.99, November 2015, 978 1 910392 16 4
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... to anglophone readers and collects the work of many translators who use a variety of techniques (Edwin Morgan translates Mayakovsky into Scots: ‘Een/gawp oot/fae a sonsy bap-face’). Political poems, manifestos and lectures that are usually ignored in the West are included here. The result is a fuller view of the poet struggling to reconcile his gift ...

Concierge

John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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Auden 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... pieces in it are so troubled, as all Pound criticism has to be. The book’s keynote essay is by Edwin Morgan, who recounts how he spent World War Two ‘sitting in a flyblown tent in the Egyptian desert, waiting for the advance of Axis guns’, and who ‘from that time on ... could never see Pound in an unambiguous light, or think of him as other than ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... found notorious in the country.We made a trip into Glasgow to a care home on the Crow Road, where Edwin Morgan was then living and writing. He and I had corresponded when he left his old flat and lost his library. I sent him some books and we agreed to see each other in Glasgow. Eddie was a city man. He was a city poet. It must have been odd for him to ...

Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone, 30 July 2020

... on his door but there had been no reply. He examined the books I was carrying (a collection of Edwin Muir’s essays, of which he approved; Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas, at which he wrinkled his nose) and asked me to come for a drink at six that evening, before moving off towards Clare Old Court with a curiously sideways walk that made him look as ...

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