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The Human Face

Iain Crichton Smith

Categories: 20th Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Man's inhumanity to man:
    his legacy of grief and pain,
    worse than the tiger or the lion,
        constricts the heart
    and makes us often 'howling' run
        to our safe art

    O see Man as he really is
    in all his frightened nakedness

    In The Human Face, an impassioned poem-essay in Burns's most celebrated poetic form, Iain Crichton Smith evokes the democratic spirit of Burns in an age starved of tolerance and clarity. This is the poet's most ambitious and risky poem to date. It has the humane scope and sweep of the major poems of MacDiarmid and MacLean, and it is by their measure that Smith must now be appraised. Douglas Dunn wrote in The Times Literary Supplement of 'that purity, that touch of originality, which marks poetry at the limits of intuition and imagining.' Robert Nye in The Times declared of the Collected Poems: 'Crichton Smith's net is quite wide, but its meshes are splendidly small, and he is always catching more than he probably intended.'
    Iain Crichton Smith was born in Glasgow in 1928, but his father died of TB before he could know him, and his fiercely Calvinist mother took him back to her native Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. He grew up with his two brothers in the village of Bayble, where ... read more
    Praise for Iain Crichton Smith 'Crichton Smith's work abounds in variety'

    David Hackbridge Johnson, The High Window

    'The wealth of the poems it contains is extraordinary'

    Poetry Salzburg 

     'Over the years [his] poetry has increased in strangeness and beauty. He is a poet of his own discontents, but one who has submitted his unrest to the demands of the imagination.'
    Times Literary Supplement
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