1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 6

Whaur's Yer McGonagall Noo?

Of all the little magazines which defy the withering winds of conformity, Lines, published occasionally by M. Macdonald: of Edinburgh at half a crown, must surely be the most tenacious. Mr. Alan Riddell, a poet and a propagandist for poetry, launched it several years ago, and last week be saw the nineteenth issue off the press. The verse, as usual, is a good deal more interest- ing than the prose, and I commend in particular the six Edinburgh sonnets of Robert Garioch to those who imagine that an virtue has gone out of the vernacular. Elsewhere, Hugh Mac- Diarmid's wuvre claims critical attention. Dr. David Craig, reviewing the Collected Poems, praises the great man for his great (i.e., earlier) work and dismisses the English vers libre of later. years as, so to speak, a load of old boots. Charles Senior rebukes him affectionately for rising to the bait dangled by scornful and pre- sumptuous youngsters:

Haud tac your dignity! Scrieve flytins, aye, but no usin wing feathers o an ile-bound skart for pens tac dip in vitriol. . .

But on another page the poet himself shows exactly how much he cares about his dignity by publishing a quaint poem in praise of Com- munist China, of which the following stanzas are a fair sample:

Black, yellow, white—just being human's The thing. And nothing now could be finer Than the rest of the world clapping Mao's back And crying: 'What hot my old China!'

Though East is East and West is West Now the world's so small they're bound to meet

And everything that's decent in either of them Will get on with each other a treat.

Nobody could accuse Scotland's fiery laureate (who has in fact written some of the finest poetry of the age) of bothering unduly about his image. .