Hamish Henderson
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Hamish Henderson : Collected Poems

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Hailed by some as the most important Scottish poet since Burns, Hamish Henderson lived an epic life against the backdrop of some of the defining social, political and cultural battles - both national and international - of the twentieth century. A soldier, academic, folklorist, political activist, songwriter, translator and poet, he was a seminal figure in the Scottish folk revival and literary renaissance. His humanist legacy lives on in all of these spheres, but it is perhaps through his poetry that we may experience, most keenly, the 'method in his magic.' In every verse and lyric we catch glimpses of a brilliant, complex and highly original mind, whilst also developing a fuller understanding of Henderson's lifelong mission to 'make poetry become people.'



Published to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Hamish Henderson, this collected poems is the first since the poet's death and makes available, for the first time, new material from the archive. The book opens with Freedom Becomes People, first published in Chapman 42, and reproduces, in full, his Ballads of World War II and Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica. This volume pushes at the boundaries between high modernist poetics and popular folk song; between the profound and profane; between works of individual and collective endeavour and between the poet and his purpose.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 142 x 220 x 40mm | 723g
  • BIRLINN LTD
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1846974860
  • 9781846974861
  • 1,022,126

Review quote

'Reveals one of Scotland's best-loved poets in a completely new light' * Times * 'Admired by artists and politicians as diverse as Bob Dylan and Nelson Mandela, Henderson is the subject of a handsome edition of Collected Poems' * Scotsman * 'Both rattle-bag and monument, it celebrates the sheer variety and social zest of Henderson's songs and poems, from highly wrought lyrics to soldiering songs, to comic squibs. ...Building on the work of earlier editors, it's a landmark achievement that fully restores impish intellectualist and bawdy check - and yes, highly questionable language - to our slightly sainted image of Henderson' * The Bottle Imp (Best Scottish Books, 2019) *
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About Hamish Henderson

Hamish Henderson was born in 1919 in Blairgowrie in Perthshire, educated in Dulwich College and Cambridge University, and served in North Africa and Italy with the 51st Highland Division during the Second World War. Along with his poetry, Hamish was well-known as a songwriter, a translator and a pioneer in the field of Scottish folksong. He died in March 2002.



Corey Gibson is Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of The Voice of the People: Hamish Henderson and Scottish Cultural Politics (Edinburgh University Press, 2015). His writing and research is focused on the radical literary imagination in Scotland.
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