Sorley MacLean

Collected Poems

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Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain 1911–1996) is generally recognised as the most significant writer in Scottish Gaelic of the twentieth century. Yet his work possesses a relevance extending far beyond the bounds of his nation or his language. His 1943 collection D?in do Eimhir agus D?in Eile(Poems to Eimhir) brought Gaelic poetry abreast of the modern world with breathtaking and notorious effectiveness. The love sequence at its core shows a young man battling with the conflicting claims of love and duty against the background of a continent hurtling unstoppably into all-out war. His political poem An Cuilithionn (The Cuillin) links the tragedy of the Highland Clearances with a tradition of left-wing radicalism which had the French and Bolshevik revolutions as its highpoints. His work was characterised by a mixture of reticence and outspokenness. The love sequence could not be published in its entirety while he was alive, and An Cuilithionn waited half a century before finally appearing in an abridged and shortened form. This definitive edition brings together everything published during the poet's life time and the love sequence in its fullest form, along with extracts from the 1939 manuscript of An Cuilithionn and a generous selection of unpublished poems. MacLean's own English versions are complemented, where necessary, by versions from the editors. A section of notes highlights historical and traditional references, and two maps and a glossary of place-names are provided.
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428 printed pages
Original publication
2011

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