Hugh MacDiarmid

(Christopher Murray Grieve)  


'I'll hae nae haufway hoese, but aye be whaur
Extremes meet - it's the only way I ken
To dodge the cursed conceit o' bein' richt
That damns the vast majority o' men.'


Hugh MacDiarmid is buried in Langholm Cemetery, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. (The cemetery lies one mile south of Langholm).

Grave of Hugh MacDiarmid
Photograph by David Dukes

Hugh MacDiarmid was the pseudonym of Christopher Murray Grieve.

Grieve was born and brought up in Langholm where his father was a postman and his mother was the caretaker of the town library. From 1899 - 1913 his family lived beneath the library which enabled him, as a boy, to have access to any book that he wanted.

In 1922 MacDiarmid was one of the founder members of the Scottish National Party. However, in 1933 he was expelled and subsequently joined the Communist Party. In 1938 he was expelled from the Communist Party. 

MacDiarmid objected to the sentimentality that he felt had permeated Scottish poetry after Robert Burns. He advocated, instead, that Scottish poets should return to William Dunbar as an influence.

MacDiarmid wrote with great skill in both English and the Scots dialect. His most famous poem, A Drunk Man looks at a Thistle (1926), examined the spiritual nature of his home country. 

MacDiarmid delighted in controversy and his autobiography Lucky Poet - published in 1943 - offended the officials of Langholm.

There is a memorial to MacDiarmid just north of Langholm. It takes the form of a giant book and was designed by sculptor Jake Harvey. 

'And a' the rivers, the Esk, the Ewes,
The Wauchope, the Nith, I dooked in and fished,
Guddled and girned - the hert o' a loon
Nae better playgrund could ever ha'e wished.'

From The Borders






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