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This article is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

Halophilous living by these far northern seas T.J.G. Harris

Hugh MacDiarmid, Selected Poetry, edited by Alan Riach and Michael Grieve (Carcanet) £18.95

Hugh MacDiarmid, Selected Prose, edited by Alan Riach (Carcanet) £18.95

The Age of MacDiarmid: Hugh MacDiarmid and his Influence on Contemporary Scotland, edited by P.H. Scott and A.C. Davis (Mainstream Publishing) £7.99

John Purser, Scotland's Music: A History of the Traditional and Classical Music of Scotland from Early Times to the Present Day (Mainstream Publishing/ BBC Scotland) £25
       
Halophilous living by these far northern seas
How shall our sweetgales or Iceland poppies show
Their sympathy with your cleistogamic flowers,
   Or this baragouin of ours
Save as a tawny frogmouth cry
   Simultaneous with your nightingale?


EZRA POUND remarks somewhere that any ignoramus can point out the faults in Hardy's poetry. Any ignoramus can do the same with MacDiarmid's poetry: the obvious structural weaknesses of his longer poems; the syntactical and semantic obscurities that pepper even his best poems; the sometimes excessive reliance on the dictionary (as in some of the exercises in 'dictionary Scots' that appear in 'A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle'); the rant (the mostly appalling 87 pages of 'The Battle Continues', for instance); the excessive reliance in some of his later poetry on the device of the list and on such locutions as 'Even as …" 'Even so …" 'And on to …" etc.; the insistence on throwing into a poem whatever happened to be ...


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