Scottish poetry has always possessed a peculiarly Scots taste; perhaps the inevitable result of a small, poor, ancient and prominent nation’s hard-won distinctiveness. T.S. Eliot – who bore the notorious name of cattle thieves active on both sides of the border – could construct an identity that transcended the Atlantic. Robin Robertson is evidently qualified as much by experience and learning as by emotion to sing of America. Yet he remains in the reader’s ear stubbornly associated with his native country, and his latest work, the extended mostly-verse-narrative The Long Take, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is no exception.
Arms and a man
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