Biography of William Soutar
William Soutar was a Scottish poet, born 1898. He served in the navy in World War I, and afterwards studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he encountered the work of Hugh MacDiarmid. This led to a radical alteration in his work, and he became a leading poet of the Scottish Literary Renaissance and 'one of the greatest poets Scotland has produced'. In 1924, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. From 1930 he was bedridden. He died of tuberculosis in 1943. His journal, Diary of a Dying Man, was published posthumously and is considered to 'put him into the rank of the great diarists'
One form of verse which he used was the cinquain (now known as American cinquain),these he labelled epigrams. He took up this form in the second half of the 1930s with such enthusiasm that he became an even more prolific practitioner than Adelaide Crapsey had been.
William Soutar's Works:
* Brief Words..one hundred epigrams The Moray Press, Edinburgh & London 1935
* Diaries of a Dying Man Canongate Press, Edinburgh 1954 ISBN 0-86241-347-8
* Gleanings by an Undergraduate Alexander Gardner, Paisley 1923
* Seeds in the Wind, Poems in Scots for Children Andrew Dakers, London 1943
William Soutar Poems
The Trysting Place
O luely, luely, cam she in And luely she lay doun: I kent her be her caller lips And jer breists sae sma' and roun'.
Ayont the Caller Fountain Whan gowks were in the schaw, We gether'd the wild roses That were sae white and sma';
End is in beginning; And in beginning end: Death is not loss, nor life winning; But each and to each is friend.
They delv'd a saft hole For Johnnie McNeel: He aye had been droll But folk likit him weel.
A skelp frae his teacher For a’ he cudna spell: A skelp frae his mither For cowpin owre the kale.
Atween the world o' licht And the world that is to be A man wi' unco sicht Sees whaur he canna see:
Nae man wha loves the lawland tongue but warstles wi' the thoucht- there are mair sangs that bide unsung nor a' that hae been wroucht.
Spindle-shank gangs owre the flair Wi’ his ae leg in the air: Shaks his pow outside the door Whan his hair is fou o’ stour.
Whan I haik't up to Craigie Hill And lookit east and west; 'In a' the world,' said I to mysel', 'My ain shire is the best.'
He Who Weeps For Beauty Gone
He who weeps for beauty gone Hangs about his neck a stone. He who mourns for his lost youth
Cuddle-doun my bairnie The dargie day is dune: Yon’s a siller sternie Ablow the siller mune.
The Halted Moment
Wha hasna turn'd inby a sunny street And fund alang its length nae folk were there; And heard his step fa' steadily and clear
Steepies for the barnie Sae moolie in the mou': Parritch for a strappan lad To mak his beard grow.
Whan Gowdan Are The Carse-Lands
Braw are the Grampian Mountains Whan simmer licht is still; And gowdan are the Carse-lands Ablow the Corsie Hill.
Out of the darkness of the womb
Into a bed, into a room:
Out of a garden into a town,
And to a country, and up and down
The earth; the touch of women and men
And back into a garden again:
Into a garden; into a room;
Into a bed and into a tomb;
And the darkness of the world's womb.