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Scots Gaelic poet, born on the island of Raasay (which lies between Skye and mainland Scotland) in 1911, died in 1996, and one of my heroes. He is credited with helping the renaissance in Gaelic, his mother tongue, but a language close to dying out when he first began his writing career.

His poetry is a wonderful combination of love, passion, politics and a lament for the breaking of Gaelic culture and the clearance of the Highlands and Islands.

His collection Dain do Eimhir (Poems to Eimhir, 1943) established his reputation. This cycle of poems lead his fellow Scots poet Iain Crichton Smith to place him on a par with Donne, Yeats, Sappho and Catullus as one of the greatest poets of love of all time.

An implacable anti-fascist, he also served in the British Army in North Africa, where as well as being wounded three times, the last severely, he suceeded in again producing some fine poems. He remained politically engaged - he celebrated his Highland heritage, but never closed his eyes to wider social and historical questions. See for example his tribute to the great Glasgow working class activist and fellow clansman John MacLean:

Not they who died
in the hauteur of Inverkeithing
in spite of valour and pride
the high head of our story;
but he who was in Glasgow
the battle post of the poor
great John MacLean
the top and hem of our story

I can't read Gaelic at all well, but he translated his own work and it still leaves a powerful impression. Apparently he was a great stylistic innovator who was simultaneously able to keep faith with the traditions of Gaelic verse - he refers to earlier greats such as William Ross. Here's a sample I took from the collection "From Wood to Ridge" (O Choille gu Bearradh):

As the slow embers of the fire
become a pure sparkling flame
so my love for you
becomes a white adoration.

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