Growing up on the Isle of Lewis, Iain Crichton Smith spoke only Gaelic until he was five. But at school in Bayble and then Stornoway, everything had to be in English. Like many islanders before and since, his culture is divided: two languages, two histories entailing exile, a central theme of his poetry. His divided perspective sharply delineates the tyranny of history and religion, of the cramped life of small communities; it gives him a tender eye for the struggle of women and men in a world defined by denials.
Deer on the High Hills: Selected Poems includes forty years' work and proves that big themes - love, history, power, submission, death - can be addressed without the foil of irony and acquire resonance when given a local habitation and a voice that risks pure, impassioned speech. Editor John Greening provides indexes, a preface and an essay on the life and work of this important poet.