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Flytings

Arnold Rattenbury: Hamish Henderson, 23 January 2003

Collected Poems and Songs 
by Hamish Henderson, edited by Raymond Ross.
Curly Snake, 163 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 1 902141 01 6
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... Old men can be buggers at hanging on. Hamish Henderson, who died last March at the age of 82, hung on firmly through three books, edited by others: his writings on ‘Song, Folk and Literature’, collected as Alias MacAlias (1992), a selected letters, The Armstrong Nose (1996) – both edited by Alec Finlay – and Collected Poems and Songs, edited by Raymond Ross ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish HendersonA Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish HendersonA Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... There are those, even among his friends, who remember Hamish Henderson as a chaotic figure who could most often be found soliloquising in Sandy Bell’s, a favourite pub near Edinburgh University. Was he one of the ‘lowest of men’, spilling whisky and sliding off his stool as he launched into another ballad? Or was he a seer, defying body and convention to ‘soar like an eagle’ in the way of the blessed inebriate in Richard Thompson’s song ‘God Loves a Drunk’ (‘His shouts and his curses they are just hymns and praises/To kick-start his mind now and then’)? Timothy Neat writes not in order to leave his late friend in a heap on the floor, least of all the floor of the hostelry that Henderson had long since helped to establish as ‘the hub of the Scottish Folk Revival ...

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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... treatment 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 ...

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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... Scots prose guaranteed its demise. Both Thomas Crawford, writing on 18th-century Scots verse, and Hamish Henderson, on the ballads, stress the interplay between Scots and English. While the poetry Crawford deals with does not, perhaps, travel well outside of Scotland, his sympathetic and honest account of it puts it in a good light; he miraculously ...

Democratic Warming

Tom Nairn: The Upstaging of the G8, 4 August 2005

... way somewhere else; but not surprisingly, the population loves it. The city’s late, great poet Hamish Henderson spent the latter part of his life on the edge of the Meadows, which often figures in his writing. In ‘Floret silva undique’ (‘the forest flowers all about’) he depicts the politics of life itself washing constantly over the ...

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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... might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson, whose 1948 Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (reprinted by Polygon in 1990) falls on the right side of the 1945 divide, is surprisingly absent, the more so as he was one of the founders of Scottish studies in the early Fifties. If these are ...

The Unrewarded End

V.G. Kiernan: Memories of the CP, 17 September 1998

The Death of Uncle Joe 
by Alison Macleod.
Merlin, 269 pp., £9.95, May 1997, 0 85036 467 1
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Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party 
by Francis Beckett.
Merlin, 253 pp., £9.95, August 1998, 0 85036 477 9
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... was always a sine qua non for Chinese visitors – and the well-known folklorist and writer Hamish Henderson gathered half a dozen, for a lively evening’s discussion; one topic that came up was whether Lallans is a distinct language or not. We laid in a stock of beer for the occasion, on a tactful hint from ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry, 4 October 2001

Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... by a majority of more than 400.) In the same desert battles as Douglas’s, another poet, Hamish Henderson, would introduce his Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (1942-47, published 1948) with most un-Douglas-like vocabulary and implication, speaking of ‘that eternally wronged proletariat of levelling death in which all the fallen are ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... high accomplishment as Gavin Ewart and Henry Reed, Norman Cameron and Robert Garioch, Roy Fuller, Hamish Henderson and Sorley Maclean – and many others wholly unknown to fame. It’s true that sensitive annotation of individual experience was the hallmark of their generation of writers. Owen and Rosenberg had, in a sense, already ‘said it ...

Euro-Gramscism

Tom Nairn, 3 July 1980

Gramsci and Marxist Theory 
edited by Chantal Mouffe.
Routledge, 288 pp., £9.50, November 1979, 0 7100 0358 7
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Gramsci and the State 
by Christine Buci-Glucksmann.
Lawrence and Wishart, 470 pp., £14, February 1980, 9780853154839
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Gramsci’s Politics 
by Anne Showstack Sassoon.
Croom Helm, 261 pp., £12.95, April 1980, 9780709903260
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... period from 1910 up to his imprisonment in 1926: and two editions of the Letters from Prison by Hamish Henderson and Lynne Lawner (1974 and 1975). In 1981 Lawrence and Wishart plan to publish a fourth volume in their series of selections, this time from Gramsci’s abundant articles and notes on literature and cultural life. The impact of this ought to ...

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne, 21 May 2020

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot: The Great Mistake of Scottish Independence 
by John Lloyd.
Polity, 224 pp., £20, April, 978 1 5095 4266 6
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The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation 
by Scott Hames.
Edinburgh, 352 pp., £24.99, November 2019, 978 1 4744 1814 0
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... conscience has tended to needle only after wealth and opportunity have run out. When, in 1960, Hamish Henderson sang that ‘broken families in lands we’ve herriet/Will curse Scotland the brave nae mair, nae mair’ he was expressing a hope that Scots would become better global citizens, even as America’s Polaris missiles arrived at their new home ...

The Atmosphere of the Clyde

Jean McNicol: Red Clydeside, 2 January 2020

When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside 
by Maggie Craig.
Birlinn, 313 pp., £9.99, March 2018, 978 1 78027 506 2
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Glasgow 1919: The Rise of Red Clydeside 
by Kenny MacAskill.
Biteback, 310 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 1 78590 454 7
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John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside 
by Henry Bell.
Pluto, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 0 7453 3838 5
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... going to write his biography) tried to claim him too. Then the poets took over: Hugh MacDiarmid, Hamish Henderson and Sorley Maclean saw Maclean as synthesising nationalism and internationalism (you could go on adding Caledonian antisyzygies, as Bell does: Highlander and Lowlander, atheist and Calvinist, hero and fool, teacher and ...

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