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Sydney Goodsir Smith - Poet and Writer


Sae they ployed hoppy as screwballs all the day lang until as nicht begroan to fail upone the waurld they ilkane couried doun to slump, haean sighed their proars in dew and peeper forum. ... More below ...

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Sydney Goodsir Smith (1915-1975) lived at 25 Drummond Place in Edinburgh, i.e. the left-hand house in the first picture, which is the central portion of the terrace in the second picture. Drummond Place is a U-shaped space with a tree-filled garden in the middle. It was originally designed by Robert Reid in 1804 but most of it was not built until about 1818-1819 when the designs were revised by Thomas Bonnar. The end pavilions contain Reid's characteristic semi-circular window with two mullions in the attic whilst the centrepiece with Ionic pilasters is Bonnar's.

Sydney Goodsir Smith was a poet, artist, dramatist and novelist and a major figure of the Scottish Renaissance movement in the mid-20th century. He wrote poetry in literary Scots often referred to as Lallans (Lowlands). Under the Eildon Tree (1948), comprising 23 variations on the subject of love, is considered his masterpiece. He also wrote a comic novel about Edinburgh called Carotid Cornucopius (1947). It is highly original, written in a language that at first looks quite unintelligible. Persistence and the re-reading of passages is rewarding, however, and great fun for lovers of language. Here is an extract (and there are no typing errors):

   Sae they ployed hoppy as screwballs all the day lang until as nicht begroan to fail upone the waurld they ilkane couried doun to slump, haean sighed their proars in dew and peeper forum. Meg, the hoturnal lumping Maw, the Allma Mater of the hippy twine, learnit them the Lauk's Preyer in the sextarian abusage of the Haunt of Mondlethian and though they dudnae get aa the weirds richt their damp demotion and poiety were unmentionable and drolly dutching. The wee gigants did their botchest to follie whit their lowing Maw moo'd, and thus their babby lups repattered owfter her: "Our Cramond that Marchmont Newhaven, Holyrood Bruntsfield Grange; thy Colinton Comely-Bank; thy Liberton in Leith, Arthur's Seat Corstorphine; Granton Lasswade our Dalkeith Braids and Forthbrig us our Tollcrosses, as we Fairmilehead them that Grassmarket Cowgate us. Queensferry us not into Tynecastle but Dean Brig us Tron Mayfield, for St. Giles Inch the King's Park, the Powderhall, the Gorgie; for Waverley and Waverley. Dun Edin."
   End thus their bibbyhood fleed bye in cheeriness and sillisence, little racking whit the faurtear helld, and giean nocht a button if it ruined or frazzed. Are ye infeediose? Ay, shairlie. 


About Sydney Goodsir Smith's writings at SLAINTE

About the Scottish Renaissance

Several pubs in the New Town were famous haunts of the poets of the Scottish Renaissance


More of Edinburgh at Astoft


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All photographic images on this website are Copyright the website owner 2001 or later unless otherwise stated. Email contact above. Full size originals (3-6 megapixels)  are available for approved purposes.