Hugh MacDiarmid

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MacDIARMID, Hugh, pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve [1892–1978]. Scottish poet, critic, and polemicist, leader of the LALLANS movement. Born and educated in Langholm, a Border town whose dialect and traditions contributed to the striking individuality of his poetic style, Grieve was a founder (1928) of the National Party of Scotland (expelled 1933) and a member of the Communist Party (expelled 1938, rejoined 1956). Although passionately committed to Scottish cultural and political nationalism, he was at first unconvinced of the viability of SCOTS for 20c poetry. His discovery of the extent and expressiveness of Scots vocabulary, however, particularly as recorded in Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1808), prompted him to experiment with a Synthetic Scots, first for short lyrics, then for extended metaphysical poem-sequences (most importantly A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, 1926) showing a linguistic virtuosity and a spirit of philosophical exploration not attempted in Scots poetry since medieval times. His success in revitalizing poetry in the language has been marked.

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Hugh MacDiarmid (məkdûr´mĬd, –mĬt), pseud. of Christopher Murray Grieve, 1892–1978, Scottish poet and critic, b. Langholm, Dumfrieshire. Passionately devoted to Communism and to Scottish independence from England, he was a founder of the Scottish Nationalist Party in 1928. He was the core figure in the "Scottish renaissance" of the interwar years. Among his many works are At the Sign of the Thistle (1934), essays; A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1962, rev. ed. 1971), a long poem castigating his fellow Scots; Collected Poems (1962), More Collected Poems (1971), and The Socialist Poems (1978). MacDiarmid was a masterful poet in both English and Scots, which he revived as a modern literary language.

See his autobiography, Lucky Poet (1943, rev. ed. 1972); studies by D. Glen (1972), A. C. Davis and P. C. Scott (1980).

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MacDiarmid, Hugh (1892–1978) Scottish poet and critic, b. Christopher Murray Grieve. A nationalist and communist, MacDiarmid was the dominant poetic voice in Scotland from the early 1920s. His revival of Scots as a medium for poetry contributed to the 20th-century Scottish renaissance, of which A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926) is the poetic masterpiece.