by John Manson

John Manson is a Sutherland-born, Dumfriesshire-based poet, reviewer and translator. He has published a number of poetry collections including East Sutherland and Other Poems. He has also translated Victor Serges, Carnets (1944), available at Victorserge After reading Allan Armstrong’s Beyond Broadswords and Bayonets (E&L 5/6) he wrote making the following helpful comments.

A few thoughts – and references – on literary matters in your paper – so ‘out of context’

I don’t think the Little White Rose (E&L 5/6, reference 47) is a deliberate reference to a Jacobite emblem. It was adapted from Compton Mackenzie’s words, You know our wild rose? It is white, and small, and prickly, and possesses a sharp, sweet scent which makes the heart ache (MacDairmid by Alan Bold, Paladin, London, 1990, p.489).

The longest discussion I know of of Clann Albain (E&L 5/6, p.28) is in Alan Riach’s Hugh MacDairmid’s Epic Poetry (Edinburgh, 1991, p. 4-14). This goes on to discuss the second Clann Albain, openly formed in 1948 and which dealt with land restoration in Wester Ross, and also discusses Clann Albain as a title for five books of MacDairmid’s poetry which were never published under that title. The first Clann Albain is also discussed in Fionn McColla’s Too Long in this Condition (Thurso, 1975, p. 92-95). I’ve never seen any primary document about the first Clann Albain and never heard the membership described as more than six.

However, did you notice MacDairmid’s poem The Covenanters in Second Hymn to Lenin and Other Poems (1935), published in The Complete Poems of Hugh MacDarmid, Volume 1, edited by Michael Grieve and W. R. Allen (Penguin Modern Classics, Harmondsworth, 1985, p. 551).

Gibbon’s notes (E&L 5/6, p. 28, plus reference 84) for his novel on the Covenanters are now printed in Smeddum – A Lewis Grassic Gibbon Anthology, edited by Valentina Bold (Canongate, Edinburgh, 2001, p. 807-9).

You refer to Angus Cameron (E&L, p.46, reference 160), but I wonder if you know of David Craig’s novel King Cameron (Carcanet, Manchester, 1991) about the rising in Strathtay in 1797. He has a sequel, The Unbroken Harp, for which he is trying to find a publisher.

Best Wishes,

John Manson

The Covenanters

  • The waves of their purposefulness go flooding through me.
  • This religion is simple, naked. Its values stand out
  • In black and white. It is the wind of God;
  • Like standing on a mountain top in a gale
  • Binding, compelling, yet gloriously freeing.
  • It contains nothing tawdry or trivial.
  • Its very ugliness is compelling,
  • Its bleakness uplifting.
  • It holds me in a fastness of security.

Hugh MacDarmid