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William Soutar
( )

William Soutar (1898- 1943) was born and educated in Perth. He spent his war service with the Royal Navy from 1916 to 1919, and then went on to Edinburgh University to complete his education. Enrolled as a medical student, Soutar soon transferred to English Literature and graduated in 1923. A verse collection, Gleanings by an Undergraduate, was published anonymously at this time. Suffering from a progressive disease of the spine, Soutar returned to his parents house in Perth to take up what amounted to a lifetime of private study, and by 1930 he was permanently confined to bed. He produced several volumes of poems in English in the following fourteen years, but by this time Soutar was also experimenting with Scots, and bairn-rhymes in particular. His first poems in this mode were published as Seeds in The Wind (1933), with Poems in Scots in 1935 and Riddles in Scots in 1937. The most complete collection of his work can be found in Poems of William Soutar: A New Selection, (ed W.R. Aitken, Scottish Academic Press, 1988). A lively succession of friends, artists and writers came to visit Soutar in his bedroom. He recorded these events, along with his own thoughts, political views, dreams and creative processes in his diary, his journal, a dream book, a common-day book and, at the very end of his life, a record which he called The Diary of a Dying Man.


The Trysting Place


The Trysting Place

All luely, luely cam she in,
And luely lay she doun:
I kent her be hercaller lips
And her breists sae sma and roun.
A thru night we spak nae word
Nor sinderd bane frae bane:
A thru the nicht I herd her hert
Gang soundin wi my ain.
It was about the wakrife hour
And cocks begin to craw
That she smoold saftly thru the mirk
Afore the day wud dow.
Sae luely, luely cam she in,
Saie luely was she gaen;
And wi her a my simmer days
Like they had never been.




2006 Helen and Jacob Feldman