William Soutar (1898-1943)

Scottish poet, born the son of a master-joiner in Perth, on 28 April 1898. Educated at Perth Academy. From 1916 to 1919 he was in the Royal Navy. The service gave him a form of spondylitis for which there was no cure. After being demobilized, he studied medicine and English literature at the University of Edinburgh. In 1923 when he graduated, he published anonymously his first volume of verses, Gleanings by an Undergraduate. Because of his growing ill health, he could not hold a job. By 1929 he had lost the use of his legs, and on 3 November 1930 became bedridden in his father’s house in Perth. However, he continued to publish verse throughout his life; Conflict (1931), Seed in the Wind (1933), his first volume in Scots for children, The Solitary Way (1934), Poems in Scots (1935), Riddles in Scots (1937), In Time of Tyrants (1939), and But the Earth Abideth (1943). His Scots volumes placed him in the Scottish Renaissance at the beginning of the 20th century. He enjoyed the friendship of Scots poets including Helen Burness Cruickshank and Hugh MacDiarmid. Alexander Scott edited Soutar’s remarkable Diaries of a Dying Man (1954), which Soutar kept from 5 July 1943 to 14 October when he knew he was dying. It showed Soutar as an outstanding diarist. He died on 15 October 1943. (H. N.)

1.Ballad (“Far in the nicht whan faint the müne”)
2.The Tryst