Sorley MacLean

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sorley MacLean bust in South Gyle

Sorley MacLean ( Gaelic : Somhairle MacGill-Eain ; born October 26, 1911 in Raasay , Inner Hebrides ; † November 24, 1996 in Inverness , Highland ) was a Scottish poet who wrote his poems in Gaelic and received the Queen's Gold Medal in 1990 for Poetry .


After attending schools on Raasay and the Isle of Skye , he studied English at the University of Edinburgh , where he began his poetry as a student and by the end of the 1930s already had a reputation within the Scottish literary scene. In 1940 he published the volume of poems Seventeen Poems for Sixpence as hand print together with Robert Garioch . During the Second World War he did his military service in the British Army and took part in the battles of El Alamein during the Africa campaign , where he suffered serious wounds.

After he had recovered from his injuries, he published Dáin do Eimhir (Poems to Eimhir) in 1943, which contained many of his love poems to the legendary Eimhir from the early Irish sagas and was widely recognized and recognized in later editions. Influenced by the metaphysical poets, but also by Celtic mythology and traditional Gaelic music, MacLean revived the Gaelic literary language and tradition, while his friend Hugh MacDiarmid reintroduced the Scottish language as a serious literary language. During this time he also belonged to the Celtic League and was a frequent author of articles in their quarterly Carn .

MacLean, who worked as a teacher and school principal until his retirement in 1972 , published his most important collection of poems in 1977 with Reothairt is Contraigh (Spring Tide and Neap Tide). Numerous of his poems have been published worldwide in bilingual editions. After the anthology Collected Poems was published in 1989 , it was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1990. Since 1992 he has been an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh .


  • Seventeen poems for sixpence , 1940
  • Dain do Eimhir , 1943
  • Poems to Eimhir , 1971
  • Spring tide and neap tide , 1977
  • Reothairt is contraigh , 1985
  • Ris a'bhruthaich , 1985
  • Auld Alliance poetry reading , 1985
  • 14 poems of Sorley MacLean , 1986
  • From Wood to Ridge , 1989
  • O choille gu bearradh , 1991
  • Eimhir , 1999

Background literature

  • T. McCaughey: The History of Scottish Literature , Volume 4, 1987
  • Joy Hendry: Gaidhealtachd and Sorley MacLean (Chapman Magazine) , 1992, ISBN 9780906772409

Web links and sources

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed March 19, 2020 .