Duncan Glen

Duncan Glen is one of the poets we chose to feature for National Poetry Day 2008.

Cover of 'Edinburgh poems'

Duncan Glen was a major figure in the Scottish literary scene as a poet, publisher, and typographer. His 'Collected poems 1965-2005' (2006) was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year. Duncan was born in Cambuslang, Glasgow, in 1933. He died in September 2008.

These two poems come from 'Edinburgh poems' published by Akros. 'Edinburgh poems' was the joint winner of the 2008 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.

Duncan said: 'To me, so-called free verse must have not only form but song. Even short lyrics can involve much revision, but this poem came spontaneously, with only one word altered.'


Edinburgh Autumn

It is September. There is a haar
drifting in from the Forth
giving an air of mystery.
A coldness in the air too soon.

The sounds heard blurred.
It is hard to tell from which direction
they come. But the mist will clear
if a bite still in the air.

Taking us into the beautiful irony of autumn.




Duncan Glen wrote the following poem in 1987 when he returned to Edinburgh after many years in England. It was part of his 'Edinburgh walkabout' sequence.

Edinburgh's Botanics

A humidifying scientific place, of well-marked plants
in linked glass houses. There's much bright water
and intelligent paths. Exotics reaching to the topmost
corners in from tropical forests and cacti

from many a desert place.

We are out to walk well-fed grass that curves around
bairns at play, sober older citizens
at their Sunday stroll beneath the old trees,
along the famous rhododendron walk surely unique

to this humanising scientific place.

And through a garden of heathers of all the world.
And the rock garden. Here basalts
From Giant's Causeway, conglomerates from Ben Ledi
and weathered stones from the old Bank of Scotland building

all set here with peaceful growing life.


National Poetry Day 2008


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