is a selection of Sorley MacLean’s principal works:
for a more comprehensive listing of his published writings,
please consult the Bibliography
Mac Gill-Eathain and Robert Garioch. 17 Poems
for 6d: in Gaelic, Lowland Scots & English.
[Edinburgh: Chalmers Press],1940.
On returning to Edinburgh
in 1939, Sorley MacLean had renewed his friendship with
the Edinburgh poet Robert Garioch. In January 1940 a
slim pamphlet of the poems of Sorley MacLean and Robert
Garioch, printed on Garioch’s own hand press, appeared
under the imprint of ‘The Chalmers Press’. The volume
contained eight Gaelic poems by Sorley MacLean, six
poems in Scots and two in English by Robert Garioch,
and a translation by Robert Garioch of MacLean’s Dàin
III, ‘Cha do chuir de bhuaireadh riamh (Never has such
turmoil). The eight Gaelic poems by Sorley MacLean were
four sections from ‘Dàin do Eimhir’ (XXIX, IV, XIV and
III), a section from ‘An Cuilithionn’ (The Cuillin),
‘Trì Slighean (Three Ways), dedicated to the poet Hugh
MacDiarmid, ‘A’ Chorra Ghritheach’ (The Heron), and
‘An t-Eilean’ (The Island). Copies of this issue of
the work are extremely rare.
Mac Ghill-Eathain and Robert Garioch. Seventeen
Poems for Sixpence. Edinburgh: The Chalmers
A second issue of 17
Poems for 6d was published a few weeks after the original
issue with a number of corrections, and under the title
Seventeen Poems for Sixpence. It contained five poems
from ‘Dàin do Eimhir’ (III, IV, XIV, XV and XXIX), and
Robert Garioch’s Scots version of Dàin III. The volume
was reviewed in The New Alliance for June/July 1940.
The anonymous reviewer commented: ‘One would like to
think that this is an epoch-making book…’
Mac Ghill Eathain. Dàin do Eimhir agus Dàin
Eile. William MacLellan: Glaschu, 1943.
When Sorley MacLean was sent abroad on war duty in 1941, he left his poems with Douglas Young, who had volunteered to find a publisher for them. When Young was imprisoned, the task of overseeing the publication was taken over by the Rev. John Mackechnie. The book was in proof when Sorley MacLean arrived back in England to convalesce in March 1943. William MacLellan, the Glasgow publisher, assumed responsibility for publishing the work, with a subsidy from the Catherine McCaig Trust, and it appeared in early November 1943, with an introductory note by Douglas Young, and illustrations by the Scottish artist William Crosbie. The volume was arranged in two sections: ‘Dàin do Eimhir’ (Songs to Eimhir), forty-eight love poems numbered I to LX, but with some significant gaps; and ‘Dàin Eile (Other Poems), along with English prose translations of some poems. On publication, the work received a number of favourable reviews.
MacLean. Poems to Eimhir, translated from Gaelic
by Iain Crichton Smith. London: Victor Gollancz,
The publication of Iain
Crichton Smith’s English translations of thirty-six
of the poems in the ‘Dàin do Eimhir’ sequence in 1971
was an important milestone in that it made Sorley MacLean’s
poems more widely available to non Gaelic-speakers.
A paperback edition of Crichton Smith’s translations
was also published in the same year in the Northern
House Pamphlet Poets series (no. 15).
MacGill-Eain/Sorley MacLean. Reothairt is Contraigh:
Taghadh de Dhàin 1932-72/ Spring tide and Neap
tide: Selected Poems 1932-72. Edinburgh: Canongate,
The first major collection
of the poet’s work, with poems selected by him and with
his own English translations, appeared in 1977. The
poems cover the period 1932 to 1972, with about 40 poems
from the ‘Dàin do Eimhir’ sequence, and about 30 later
poems (already published in books and periodicals).
In this edition the distinction between the ‘Dàin’ and
other poems was abandoned, and the poems were grouped
under a number of headings. Also included were two new
poems: ‘Dol an Iar’ and ‘Soluis’. The typographer and
book designer, Ruari McLean, designed the jacket for
this handsomely produced volume.
MacGill-Eain/Sorley MacLean. O Choille gu Bearradh/From
Wood to Ridge: Collected Poems in Gaelic and
English. Manchester: Carcanet, 1989.
Sorley MacLean’s Collected
Poems in Gaelic were first published, with his English
translations, in 1989 by Carcanet, the Manchester-based
publishing house. The poems are arranged in a number
of sections by chronology, and a number of the sections
are also titled, for example, ‘An Tràigh Thathaich’
(The Haunted Ebb), December 1939-July 1941 and ‘An Iomhaigh
Bhriste’ (The Broken Image), August 1941-April 1944..
The volume has a preface written by the poet in which
he describes in detail the early influences on his poetry.
MacGill-Eain/Sorley MacLean. O Choille gu Bearradh/From
Wood to Ridge: Collected Poems in Gaelic and in English
translation. Manchester and Edinburgh: Carcanet/Birlinn,
A fully revised and
corrected edition of the Collected Poems was issued
by Carcanet and the Edinburgh-based publishing house,
Birlinn, in 1999, three years after the poet’s death
in 1996. This edition also contains the preface by the
poet, which first appeared in the 1989 Carcanet edition.
MacLean. Dàin do Eimhir/Poems to Eimhir, edited by Christopher
Whyte. Glasgow: The Association of Scottish Literary
Studies (ASLS), 2002.
This is the authoritative edition of the ‘Dàin do Eimhir’
sequence of love poems, with an extensive introduction
and detailed commentary on the poems by Christopher
Whyte, Gaelic poet and scholar. The edition brings together
all but one of the whole of the cycle of the ‘Dàin do
Eimhir’ poems, and includes six that have not previously
appeared in print.
Somhairle MacGill-Eain/Sorley MacLean. O Choille gu
Bearradh/From Wood to Ridge: Collected Poems in Gaelic
and in English translation. Manchester/Edinburgh: Carcanet/Birlinn,
Somhairle: Dàin is Deilbh: a Celebration on the 80th
Birthday of Sorley MacLean, ed. Angus Peter Campbell.
Stornoway: Acair, 1991: www.acairbooks.com
Ris a’ Bhruthaich: The Criticism and Prose Writings
of Sorley MacLean, ed. William Gillies. Stornoway: Acair,
Dùthchas nan Gàidheal: Selected Essays of John MacInnes,
edited by Michael Newton. [Contains three essays on
the work of Sorley MacLean]. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2006:
Dàin do Eimhir, edited by Christopher Whyte. Birlinn,
Edinburgh. ISBN: 1 84697 025 3. Publication date: August