Bàrdachd Mhic Iain Dheòrsa
George Campbell Hay (1915-1984) is acknowledged as one of the towering figures of 20thc. Gaelic poetry, and also respected outwith that linguistic tradition for his work in Scots and English, yet since the appearance of his three poetry collections shortly after the war, the greater part of his work has been unavailable, and its appreciation limited to a handful of Gaelic poems. Even the 1970 anthology which brought his non-Gaelic poems to wider attention has long been out of print, and his master-work - the unfinished long narrative poem Mochtar is Dughall - only emerged from almost forty years' obscurity in 1982. In short, there is an urgent need for the totality of Hay's work to be made available again, both for the enjoyment of the poetry-reading public and to enable a proper assessment of his contribution to Scottish literature. This thesis aims to provide the basis for such a Collected Edition. As a scholarly edition, however, it does not seek to provide single ideal texts or an editor's anthology, but to present the development of each poem through all its variants (shown in a critical apparatus), and bring some light to bear on the creative process. The poems are given in a separate volume, in chronological order, with no interfering classifications (such as by language, or publication status). In the way of introduction, I first give an account of Hay's life. This is based primarily on the man's own correspondence, to complement already published portraits drawn in the main from personal reminiscence. I have stressed the socio-political context in which Hay operated up till the war, as his passionate evangelical nationalism held such a dominant place in his poetry throughout his life. The following chapter looks in more detail at Hay's poetic activity in the 1940s, marked by his growing reputation and his association with the Scottish Renaissance of Hugh MacDiarmid, and culminating in the publication of Fuaran Sleibh, Wind On Loch Fyne and 0 Na Ceithir Airdean. A third chapter surveys the principal themes which exercised Hay's poetic imagination. In view of the edition's eschewal of categorisation, such a thematic classification may be of help in giving an overview of Hay's poetry; its aim however is not to create artificial segregations, but to stress both the diversity and the underlying philosophical unity of the poetry. Hay was a poet of virtuosic technique, and a final chapter examines both his own professed attitudes to poetic technique and his practical craftsmanship; this includes the linguistic and musical aspects of his work. The edition proper is preceded by a statement of editorial policy, illuminating some of the problems posed by the differing nature of the sources, and by Hay's inveterate tendency to revise his work. There follow notes to the poems, appendices of material which did not find a place in the main body of the edition, and an illustrated index of the Argyll place-names which so copiously populate Hay's poetry. An index to the poems is also supplied.