Biography of Alexander Anderson
Alexander Anderson (April 30, 1845 – July 11, 1909) was a Scottish poet.
Born in Kirkconnel, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, the sixth and youngest son of James Anderson a quarrier. When the boy was three, the household moved to Crocketford in Kirkcudbrightshire. He attended the local school where the teacher found him to be of average ability. The area around Croketford was renowned for martyrdom and Anderson seems to have taken inspiration from his walks in the hills in his later poetry. At sixteen he was back in his native village working in a quarry; some two years later (1862), he became a surfaceman or platelayer on the Glasgow and South-western railway, and generally wrote under the name of Surfaceman.
Spending all his leisure in self-culture, he mastered German, French, and Spanish sufficiently to read the chief masterpieces in these languages. His poetic vein, which was true if somewhat limited in range, soon manifested itself, and in 1870 he began to send verses to the ‘People's Friend’ of Dundee, and subsequently his fist book ‘A Song of Labour and other Poems’, was published in 1873 by the Dundee advertiser in a run of 1000. Thanks to the support of The Peoples Friend this issue sold out within a fortnight. He was also aided by the support of the Rev George Gilfillan, a poetry critic in Dundee. Gilfillan wrote to Thomas Aird “You will be greatly interested in his simple manner and appearance-an unspoiled Burns is these respects and not without a little real mens divinor. Of course you know his poetry and his remarkable history”. and there followed Two Angels (1875), Songs of the Rail (1878), and Ballads and Sonnets (1879). In the following year he was made assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh, and after an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution there, he returned as Chief Librarian to the university. Thereafter he wrote little. Of a simple and gentle character, he made many friends, including the Duke of Argyll, Thomas Carlyle, and Lord Houghton.
A famous poem of his is "Cuddle Doon
Alexander Anderson Poems
A Legend of St. Patrick
I heard this old legend a few days ago— A legend so quaint Of Ireland's saint, That to lighten my time I have put it in rhyme, Just to see how it looks with the lines all a-row.
The Lily O' The Banks O' Cree
Saft fa's the sun on Anwoth Hills When simmer smiles an' a' is fair; But what is licht to them or me, When she I lo'e is bidin' there?
Hurrah! for the mighty engine, As he bounds along his track: Hurrah, for the life that is in him, And his breath so thick and black.
On the Engine By Night
On the engine in the night-time, with the darkness all around, And below the iron pulses beating on with mighty sound. And I stand as one in wonder, till within a flush of pride
Song Of The Engine
In the shake and rush of the engine, In the full, deep breath of his chest, In the swift, clear clank of the gleaming crank, In his soul that is never at rest;
The Cricket's Song
He will not sing his loudest song, This poet full of love and mirth, Until the shadows which belong To night are deep upon the hearth.
A Night Vision In The Colosseum At Rome
I sit upon a shattered shaft, as if Time, worn and blind, Had smote himself in sudden rage and left one limb behind.
A Castle Old And Grey
I never see a castle That is gaunt and grey and grim, But my thoughts at once go backward To the past so misty and dim.
Blood On The Wheel
Bless her dear little heart!' said my mate, and he pointed out to me, Fifty yards to the right, in the darkness, a light burning steady and clear. 'That's her signal in answer to me, when I whistle, to let me see She is at her place by the window the time I am passing here.'
I walked for an hour in Selkirk, In the folds of a noonday dream; And through it there ran for music The murmur of Yarrow stream.
The Quick And Dead
The silent dead go marching down, With not a single banner flown; But if you only bend your ear Their funeral marches you can hear.
The Cricket's Silence
Last year I sat within my room, And heard the cricket in the gloom Chirp out his palpitating lay, As if he were on holiday.
The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht, Wi' muckle faucht an' din— 'O, try and sleep, ye waukrife rogues, Your faither's comin' in'—
The Piper's Tree
Come in, gudeman, to your ain fireside, There's a cauld, cauld grup in the air, An' the win' blaws snell frae Corsencon, For the winter's snaw is there.
City And Village
Once again within the city, 'mid its multitudinous din,
Stand I, while, as sinks a leaf when left by the uncertain wind,
So the daily village quiet, and the calm I had within,
Shrinks before the magic contact of the ever-shaping mind.
In the village life is sluggish, waking up but for a space,
As the engines shriek and whistle down by hill and wooded glen;
But here a mightier striving stamps itself upon my race—
Here are all the active ages, and the tramp of busy men.