Hamish Henderson Biography
(1919–2002), Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica
Scottish poet, born in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, educated at Downing College, Cambridge. After serving in North Africa in the Second World War, he became a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in 1951. Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (1948), his best-known work, is recognized as one of the major poetic testimonies to emerge from the Second World War; its eleven sections constitute a sustained meditation on the war's moral ambivalence and the distortions of human values that make such conflicts possible. All aspects of Henderson's experiences as a soldier, from the raging height of battle to the minutiae of commonplace tedium, are presented in verse forms indebted to the modernist examples of T. S. Eliot and Hugh MacDiarmid. Henderson is also highly regarded as a folklorist and songwriter; some of his songs may be found in his edition of Ballads of World War II Collected by Seumas Mor Maceanruig (1947). His Collected Essays appeared in 1990. See also war poetry.