MacDiarmid, Hugh (1892 - 1978)

Index to poems

Biography: 

For more poems, see the Academy of America Poets:
        The Watergaw
and The Poetry Foundation:
       from A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle
       Gairmscoile
       My Heart Always Goes Back to the North
       Of Life and Death
       On a Raised Beach
       Speech, My Beloved
       Stony Limits
       The Eemis Stane
       The Little White Rose
       The Sauchs in the Reuch Heuch Hauch
       The Watergaw
       from Water Music

Christopher Murray Grieve (Pseud. Hugh MacDiarmid) was born in Langholm, Scotland, the elder of two sons of James Grieve (a postman) and Elizabeth Graham. The young Grieve grew up speaking broad Scots and proudly associated with the mill and agricultural workers of his family. Grieve attended Broughton Higher Grade School and Junior Student Centre in Edinburgh, during which time he grew increasingly political and joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP). After leaving school, Grieve turned to freelance journalism until the outbreak of World War I, when he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) at Sheffield in July 1915. He was eventually promoted to sergeant and posted with the forty-second general hospital to Salonika, Greece. While serving at the eastern front from August 1916 to May 1918, Grieve was busy exploring both his growing Scottish identity as well as his own state of mind in a series of fictionalized 'psychological studies'; the product of the latter was Annals of Five Senses (1923), a collection of poetry and prose works in English. After the war, Grieve returned to journalism and also began to edit anthologies of Scottish verse (three volumes of Northern Numbers between 1920 and 1922). At this time Grieve grew increasingly determined to make his mark on Scottish literature. In 1922, he founded a series of periodicals; although these were short-lived, these periodicals established the definition of a literary and cultural 'renaissance' in Scotland. Grieve then began to use Scots in his writing, which culminated in his best known work, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926). During this time, Grieve was becoming a controversial public speaker due to his outspoken attacks on the English influence and Scottish complacency. Nevertheless, Grieve did not view the the English language as being in opposition to Scots. Rather, he argued in favour of cultural and linguistic variety and for the representation of hitherto neglected regions and social classes of the British Isles. He was also gradually becoming more involved in politics and in 1928, he helped found the National Party of Scotland. During the 1930s, Grieve explored new themes in his verse, including a new commitment to socialism; he left the National party in 1933 and joined the Communist Party, only to be expelled four years later for his nationalism. Beginning in 1936, Grieve embarked on a massive literary project entitled Cornish Heroic Song for Valda Trevlyn. Unlike the more lyrical and personal poetry of the past, Grieve was now writing a kind of extended 'epic' that was less accessible to the average reader. Although the work was never completed, the sections entitled In Memoriam James Joyce (1955) and The Kind of Poetry I Want (1961) were published as separate volumes. Too old to partake in combat during World War II, Grieve was called up for industrial work in Glasgow. The long hours and physical strain proved too much for Grieve and he was transferred to the merchant navy in 1944 where he served as a deckhand. After the end of the war, Grieve returned to journalism and to writing poetry. As a result of his growing interest in linguistics, the poet began to increasingly turn to English as a means of expression for his later poetry. During the 1950s and 1960s, Grieve frequently traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and North America for public appearances. He also maintained his political involvement; he stood in the 1950 election in the Glasgow Kelvingrove constituency (as the Scottish National Party candidate) and in 1956 he rejoined the Communist Party. Grieve was later diagnosed with cancer and died on 9 September, 1978.

Watson, Roderick. "Grieve, Christopher Murray [Hugh MacDiarmid] (1892–1978)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004

Grieve, C. M.. Annals of the Five Senses. Montrose, UK: 1923; London: Faber, 1930; new ed. with intro. by Alan Bold. Edinburgh: Alan Bold, 1983; ed. Roderick Watson and Alan Riach. Manchester: carcanet, 1999. PR6013 .R735 A63 1983 Robarts Library.

MacDiarmid, Hugh. Sangschaw. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1925; 2nd ed., 1937.

--. Penny Wheep. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1926; 2nd ed., 1937. MCC .M34 P466 1926 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1926; new edition, ed. by Kenneth Buthlay, Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987. PR6013 .R735 D7 1987 Robarts Library

--. The Lucky Bag. Edinburgh: Porpoise Press, 1927. PR6013 .R735 L8 University of Toronto Libraries at Downsview

--. To Circumjack Cencrastus; or, The Curly Snake. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1930. PR6013 .R735 T6 University of Toronto Libraries at Downsview

--. First Hymn to Lenin and Other Poems. Into. by AE (George William Russell). London, Unicorn Press, 1931. del .R877 Z5G75 1931 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. Second Hymn to Lenin. Thakeham, UK: Valda Trevlyn, 1932; London: S. Nott, 1935. PR6013 .R735 S4 Robarts Library

--. Scots Unbound and Other Poems. Stirling, UK: E. Mackay, 1932.

--. Tarras. Edinburgh: 1932.

--. Stony Limits and Other Poems. London: Gollancz, 1934.

--. Selected Poems. London: Macmillan, 1934.

--. Direadh. Dunfermline: 1938.

--. Cornish Heroic Song for Valda Trevlyn. Glasgow: Caledonian Press, 1943.

--. Selected Poems. Ed. R. Crombie Saunders. Glasgow: Maclellan, 1945. PR6013 .R735 A6 1944 E. J. Pratt Library at Victoria Univerity

--. Poems of the East-West Synthesis. Glasgow: Caledonian Press, 1946.

--. A Kist of Whistles: New Poems. Glasgow: Maclellan, 1947.

--. Selected Poems. Ed. Oliver Brown. Glasgow: Maclellan, 1954.

--. In Memoriam James Joyce: From a Vision of World Language. Glasgow: Maclellan, 1955. PR6013 .R735 I5 John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael's College

--. Stony Limits and Scots Unbound and Other Poems. Edinburgh: Castle Wynd, 1956. MCC .M34 S766 1956 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. The Battle Continues. Edinburgh: Castle Wynd, 1957. PR6013 .R735 B3 John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael's College

--. Three Hymns to Lenin. Edinburgh: Castle Wynd, 1957.

--. The Kind of Poetry I Want. Edinburgh: K. D. Duval, 1961.

--. Collected Poems. New York, N.Y.:Macmillan, 1962; rev. edition prepared by John C. Weston, 1967. PR6013 .R735 A17 1967 Robarts Library

--. Bracken Hills in Autumn. Edinburgh: C. H. Hamilton, 1962.

--. Poems to Paintings by William Johnstone, 1933. Edinburgh: K. D. Duval, 1963. PR6013 .R735 P6 John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael's College

--. An Apprentice Angel. New Poetry Press, 1963.

--. The Ministry of Water. Glasgow: D. Glen, 1964. MCC .M34 M565 1964a Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. Six Vituperative Verses. Satire Press, 1964.

--. The Terrible Crystal [and] A Vision of Scotland. Ayrshire, UK: D. Glen, 1964. PR6013 .R735 T3 John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael's College

--. The Fire of the Spirit. Glasgow: D. Glen, 1965.

--. Whuchulls. Preston, Lancashire, UK: Akros, 1966.

-- (With Norman MacCaig). Poems by Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig. Amherst, M.A.: University of Massachusetts, 1967. MCC .M34 A155 1967 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. On a Raised Beach. Harris Press, 1967.

--. Early Lyrics. Ed. J. K. Annand. Preston, Lancashire, UK: Akros, 1968; 2nd ed., 1969. MCC .M34 A155 1968 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. A Lap of Honour. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1967; Athens O.H.; Swallow Press, 1969. PR6013 .R735 L3 E. J. Pratt Library at Victoria University

--. A Clyack-Sheaf. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1969. PR6013 .R735 C5 E. J. Pratt Library at Victoria University

--. More Collected Poems. Athens O.H.; Swallow Press, 1970. PR6013 .R735 A17 1970 E. J. Pratt Library at Victoria University

--. Selected Poems. Ed. David Craig and John Manson. New York, N.Y.: Penguin, 1970.

--. The Hugh MacDiarmid Anthology: Poems in Scots and English. Ed. Michael Grieve and Alexander Scott. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972. MCC .M34 A155 1975 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. Poems. Ed. Alistair Keith Campsie. Ellon, Aberdeenshire, UK: Famedram, 1972.

--. Song of the Seraphion. London: Covent Garden Press, 1973.

--. Selected Lyrics. Ed. Kulgin D. Duval and Colin H. Hamilton. Verona, Italy: Officina Bodoni, 1977. E-10 04203 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

--. The Socialist Poems of Hugh MacDiarmid. Ed. T. S. Law and Thurso Berwick. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978. PR6013 .R735 S56 Robarts Library

--. Complete Poems (2 vol.). Ed. Michael Grieve and W. R. Aitken. London: Brian & O'Keeffe, 1978; also published as The Complete Poems of Hugh MacDiarmid. New York, N.Y.: Penguin, 1985. PR6013 .R735 A17 1978 Robarts Library

--. Selected Poetry. Ed. Alan Riach and Michael Grieve. Manchester: Carcanet, 1992; New York, N.Y.: New York, 1993.

--. Hugh MacDiarmid and Duncan Glen: A Prospect from Brownsbank. Kirkcaldy, UK: Akros, 1998.

Given Name: 
Christopher Murray
Family Name: 
Grieve
Pseudonym(s): 
Laidlaw, A. K.
Guthrie, Isobel
MacLaren, James
Pteleon,
Birth Date: 
August 11, 1892
Death Date: 
September 9, 1978
Nationality: 
Family Relations: 
father : James Grieve
mother : Elizabeth Grieve
brother : Andrew Grieve
wife : Peggy Skinner (from 1918 to to 1932)
daughter : Christine Grieve
son : Walter Grieve
wife : Valda Trevlyn (from 1932 to to 1978)
son : Michael Grieve
Spoken Languages: 
Literary Period: 
Literary Movement: 
Cause of Death: 
First RPO Edition: 
2009