Hugh MacDiarmid

20th century Scottish poet

Portrait of Hugh MacDiarmidHugh MacDiarmid

Hugh MacDiarmid

Hugh MacDiarmid was the pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve (1892–1978), a major poet of 20th century Scottish modernism. After finishing school, Grieve worked as a journalist and served a stint in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I. Deeply involved in politics, he was expelled from the National Party of Scotland, which he helped found, for being a communist, and ousted from the Communist Party of Great Britain for being a nationalist. MacDiarmid’s poetry, including his book length A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, is notable for its stylistic innovations and role in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th century.

cover image of the book Selected Poetry

Selected Poetry

Hugh MacDiarmid’s Selected Poetry is an invaluable introduction to the work of a major poet who, despite the enthusiasm of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, remains little known in the United States. MacDiarmid (1892-1978), universally recognized as the greatest Scottish poet since Robert Burns and the man responsible for reviving Scots as a literary language, was also the author of an enormous body of poems in English. As the noted critic and translator Eliot Weinberger writes of MacDiarmid’s work in his introduction: “There is nothing like it in modern literature, nothing even close. It is an attempt to return poetry to its original role as repository for all that a culture knows about itself.” Edited by Alan Riach and the poet’s son Michael Grieve, the Selected Poetry draws generously from fifty years of work, and includes the complete text of MacDiarmid’s 1926 masterpiece, “A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle.”

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