No wonder Edwin Morgan was Scotland's best-loved poet. His poems teem with lives and loves and are marked by an unusual love of the present and the future. He finds forms for themes and ideas just out of reach. In this collection poems both profound and witty are to be found: occasional verse that transcends its occasion, explorations of the human condition conducted with a virtuosic lightness of touch. A Book of Lives draws together the themes that inform his poetic world. The largest vistas of human history, from twenty billion years BC to 9/11 and the 'war on terror'; Scotland from Bannockburn to the opening of the Scottish parliament; portraits – of Rimbaud, the emperor Hirohito, Raeburn's skating Reverend Walker… Poems for birthdays and elegies celebrate friends; a dramatic dialogue about cancer sets personal experience in a wry evolutionary context. At the heart of the collection, a major sequence, 'Love and a Life', affirms the inextinguishable energies of love and art.