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William Soutar Biography

(1898–1943), Gleanings of an Undergraduate, Conflict, The Solitary Way, The Expectant Silence, Seeds in the Wind

scots poems poetry verse

Scottish poet, born in Perth, educated at Perth Academy and the University of Edinburgh. The spinal disease he contracted on naval service during the First World War left him bedridden from 1930 onwards. Although he had published a collection of verse entitled Gleanings of an Undergraduate (1923) in his final year at University, it was not until his illness disabled him that he began his sustained work as a poet in English and Scots. Conflict (1931), The Solitary Way (1934), and the posthumous The Expectant Silence (1944) are among his collections of poetry in English, which is characterized by its concentrated fusions of descriptive precision, contemplative intelligence, and understated wit. An associate of MacDiarmid's, whom he affectionately satirized in ‘The Thistle Looks at a Drunk Man’, he was a partisan of the revival of poetry in Scots, producing rhythmically compelling verse notable for its imaginative range. Seeds in the Wind (1933) contains many of his ‘bairnrhymes’, Scots children's poems of great simplicity and vigour. His other volumes include Poems in Scots (1935) and Riddles in Scots (1937). Collected Poems with an introduction by MacDiarmid was published in 1948. His extensive prose journals are represented by Diaries of a Dying Man (1954), edited by A. Scott, whose Still Life (1958) is a biography of Soutar.

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