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Sorley Maclean: Collected Poems by Sorley…

Sorley Maclean: Collected Poems

by Sorley Maclean

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The best Gaelic poet of the 20th century, and not only in my opinion. Seamus Heaney thought so too. The best poems (Hallaig, some of the Eimhir love poems) are as good as anything written by Yeats (and I can give no higher praise). The Cuillin (English spelling) is a long poem which reminds me of Blake in its visionary content, though Blake's version of Christianity is replaced by Maclean's version of Marxism (which he later renounced). Both can be obscure and utterly magnificent, sometimes both at the same time. (Heaney again: "Blake and Marx look down with admiration"). There is a real poet at work here, at least in the original Gaelic. Maclean wrote only in Gaelic but there is an English translation on the facing page, mostly by the poet with a few by the editors. Unfortunately the poet's own translations are at times a bit disappointing because they are too word-for-word. But if like 99.9% of LibraryThing readers you don't read Gaelic, don't be put off by that: the poetry shines through quite brightly enough in English even if some the bardic voice and tone is missing. Once read, the last few stanzas of the Cuillin will never be forgotten; I have read them in public (in English) quite a few times and it never fails to move. But like most poets who write a lot, the quality is sometimes uneven and there are some poems that don't really make it. After all, Wordsworth was quite capable both of writing 'The Prelude' and the Duddon Sonnets and also perpetrating the Ecclesiastical Sonnets, but the latter have not destroyed his reputation. Like Wordsworth, Maclean can sometimes reach the parts that other poets cannot reach. Read him. ( )
  JohnDobson | Dec 17, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184697190X, Hardcover)

This Collected Works of Sorley MacLean brings together published poetry from MacLean's own edited volumes of poetry, poetry previously published in various magazines, literary journals and anthologies, and poetry which has never been published before. The poems will be given in their original Gaelic with English translations. The volume opens with a biographical summary of Maclean's childhood on Raasay, his life at university and war experiences, and examines MacLean's effect on Gaelic and Scottish literature, and his literary, political and philosophical influences, which included Gaelic traditional song, Romanticism and Modernism, as well as Communism and Fascism.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:08 -0400)

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