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From Wood To Ridge

Sorley MacLean

Sorley MacLean, From Wood to Ridge
Categories: 20th Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • 'Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig'

    The window is nailed and boarded
    through which I saw the West
    and my love is at the Burn of Hallaig,
    a birch tree, and she has always been

    between Inver and Milk Hollow,
    here and there about Baile-chuirn:
    she is a birch, a hazel,
    a straight, slender young rowan.

                                                  from 'Hallaig'

    Celebrating the work of Sorley MacLean, Seamus Heaney wrote: 'When we come to live with his poetry's unique rigours and bonuses we can only assent to Ezra Pound's salutary distinction that there are works of art which are beautiful objects and works of art which are keys or passwords admitting one to a deeper knowledge, to a finer perception, in the grateful knowledge that Sorley MacLean's are of the latter sort.'

    MacLean was the father of the Gaelic Renaissance. His first book, mainly of love poems, was published in Gaelic in 1943. Combining traditional and modern elements, he explored the conflict between public responsibility and private passions and needs. His later work develops his themes in a specifically Gaelic setting. His most celebrated single poem, 'Hallaig', is one of several major achievements included in this new paperback edition of his Collected Poems. Fully revised and corrected, it presents the original Scots Gaelic poems with Sorley MacLean's own translations en face.

    Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain) was born on the island of Raasay in 1911. In his family Gaeli traditions, especially of song, survived. He took a first-class degree in English at Edinburgh. He served in North Africa in World War II and was wounded three times. He was instrumental in preserving the ... read more
    'Here at last is a key to some of the most fiercely impassioned poetry of this century.'
    The Times
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