REVIEWSrnWarts and Allrnby Thomas FlemingrnThe Poetry of Scotland:rnGaelic, Scots and EnglishrnEdited and Introducedrnby Roderick WatsonrnEdinburgh University Press; 714 pp.rnAnational poetry in three languages isrnhard to describe, much less anthologize,rnand, in fact, the situation is evenrnmore complex since so much good Scottishrnpoetry was written in Latin, a pointrnmade emphatically by Tom Scott in thernintroduction to his Penguin anthology.rnRoderick Watson, in editing this wonderfulrnand exasperating volume, hasrnmade the wise decision to include thernGaelic (with translations), while at thernsame time refusing to turn up his nose atrnthe large body of Scottish poetry writtenrnin English. (Unfortunately, the decisionrnto omit Latin means the exclusion ofrnLatin poets from Columba to Buchanan.)rnMuch in this new anthology is quiternproperly familiar. The Gaelic selections,rneven in the prosaic translations provided,rnare not only interesting in themselvesrnbut for the light they shed on poetryrnwritten in Scots and English. For inanyrnEnglish and American readers, it willrnbe their first acquaintance with SorleyrnMaeLean, regarded by many as one ofrnthe best Scottish poets of the century.rnDouglas Young used to say thatrnMaeLean was the finest poet writing inrnBritain, and it would be hard to think ofrna comparable figure writing in Englishrnwho can join the purity of MacLean’srnlyric with his commitment to the poor.rnAcross eternity, across its snowsrn1 see my unwritten poems,rn1 see the spoor of their pawsrndapplingrnthe untroubled whiteness of thernsnow:rnbristles raging, bloody-tongued,rnlean greyhounds and wolvesrnleaping over the tops of the dykes,rnrunning under the shade of therntrees of the wilderness…rnAny of us can hear the “Celtic” noternin “Dogs and Wolves,” but it is soundedrnas cleariy in his socialist poems like “Calvary,”rnwhich 1 shall quote in a Lallansrntranslation by his friend Douglas Young:rnMy een are no on Calvaryrnor the Bcthclehm they praisernbut on shitten back-lands inrnGlesga tounrnwhaur growan life decaysrnand a stairheid room in an Embrorn[Edinburgh] land [tenement],rna chalmer of puirtith [poverty] andrnskaith [want],rnwhaur monie a shilpet bairnikcrn[sick child]rngaes smoorit [wallowing] doun tilrndaith.rnIn his introduction, Watson confessesrnthat he shares the agenda of “almostrnall Scottish anthologies and literaryrnhistories,” which is to “sustain, imply,rnconstruct or seek a version of ourselvesrnthrough what wc have written and whatrnwe have read over the years,” and he addsrnthat “It is no coincidence that the firstrnanthology-maps in the self-consciousrnconstruction of a Scottish identity werernmade after the psychic and political traumarnof the Union of Parliaments in 1707.”rnThe good sense expressed in such barbarousrnEnglish marks Watson as thernpost-modern Scottish professor whorncannot apparently distinguish reallyrngood poets like Lindsay and Burns, Muirrnand MacDiarmid, William Soutar andrnDouglas Dunn from popular dialectrnwriters and such current trend-lickers asrnTom Leonard and Liz Lochhead.rnBut Watson’s very eclecticism andrnlack of judgment is one of his virtues.rnThe reader may not form the highestrnopinion of Scottish poetry, but he willrnhave a real sense of the Scottish traditionrn—its grandeur and power, but alsornits coarseness and silliness. One of thernhallmarks of Scottish civilization is thernparadox of great accomplishments andrnthe low critical standards of which MacDiarmidrnconstantly complained, andrnthis warts-and-all anthology will complementrnmore traditional volumes like thernOxford Book of Scottish Verse.rnThe warts—concretist, feminist, andrnzen poets—arc undoubtedly annoying,rnand some of Watson’s choices from famousrnpoets are, quite simply, bizarre.rnByron is represented by “When 1 Rovedrna Young Highlander” and a passage fromrnThe Vision of Judgment; none of Scott’srnmost famous lyrics is included; and thernselection from MacDiarmid is heavilyrnweighted with his English pseudoscientificrnprosings that will someday figure asrnlargely in his corpus as Wordsworth’srnlonger philosophizings do in his. Despiternall the space given to popular poetry,rnnone is found for Lady Grizzel Bailie orrnfor Montrose, not even the prayer herncomposed while awaiting execution. Isrnthis reverse snobbery? Robert Garioch’srn”Embro to the Ploy”—a satirical masterpiecernincluded by Tom Scott—is absent,rnand the selection of William Soutarrnseems calculated to destroy whateverrnsmall reputation that poet has outside ofrnScotland.rnThe Poetry of Scotland provides livelyrntestimony to the Scottish national tradition,rnbut it also reveals, however unwittingly,rnthe inroads made by a bourgeoisrnmodernism, which like Coca-Cola andrnLevis has displaced the authentic voicesrnof real people. The last important poetrnwhose work is represented, DouglasrnDunn, worked as a librarian at Hull, andrnwhile his work shares some of the crispnessrnand clarity of Hull’s other librarianpoet,rnPhilip Larkin, his subjects includernthe grand themes of Scottish verse. Inrn”St Kilda’s Padiament: 1879-1979,” arnphotographer who took a picture of thernmen of rugged St. Kilda’s some yearsrnbefore they asked to be removed, returnsrnto the scene to ponder the lives of therninhabitants:rnWise men or simpletons—it isrnhard to tell—But in that wayrnthey almost look alikernYou also see how each isrnindividual,rnProud of his shyness and of hisrnsmall life,rnOn this outcast of the Hebridesrn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn