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     Scottish CND     magazine

Sorley Maclean remembered

The Gaidhealtachd, and indeed the entire literary world, has been mourning the recent death of the great Gaelic bard, Sorley Maclean. MacLean was born on the Island of Raasay in 1911 and made his poetic reputation with a series of poems Dain do Eihhir, written in the political cauldron of the 1930's, with the Spanish Civil War featuring as the backcloth to much of the personal turmoil in the poems.

MacLean's passion for justice, democracy and freedom, was most powerfully demonstrated towards his own people and culture, in several poems crying against the oppression that had been visited upon the Highlands through the Clearances. But he also had an international vision, and was equally concerned with justice on a worldwide scale.

Maclean was in his 60s when he composed the poem Screapadal which makes a very powerful connection between the oppression of the Clearances and the oppression of nuclear weapons. Indeed, in an interview with me just weeks before his death, MacLean reiterated his view that nuclear arms was still the biggest issue, and biggest danger facing mankind as we approach, and enter the 21st century.

We have lost a great poet, who has not only illuminated the past, but the real shadows that still haunt our futures.

(Angus Peter Campbell, Skye)

Scottish CND      magazine