Scottish Love Poems

7th February 2003 at 00:00
Scottish Love Poems: a personal anthology. By Antonia Fraser. Canongate. pound;9.99

"O gin my love where yon red rose, That grows upon the castle wall". What nicer way to spend an unexpected cosy day at home then looking out on a white world and thinking about love?

Antonia Fraser's "fully revised and updated volume" certainly hit the spot for me with its delightful range of old and new poems mostly in standard English, but with some in the Scots tongue from Scotland's romantic past (Burns, Byron, Scott, Stevenson, Jean Elliot and Mary Queen of Scots) to thoroughly modern explorations of love by Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead, Kathleen Jamie, Edwin Morgan, Sorley Maclean, Hugh MacDiarmid and others.

There were old favourites and lovely surprises, as well as some ancient and less familiar voices. And don't the Scots do love well, in all its guises - the wooing, the wanting and the waiting, as well as lust, longing and lament.

Fraser defends her selection in a passionate, well-informed, confident introduction: "It will be found that poems have been chosen entirely on grounds of personal predilection - mine." It's a predilection that will bring pleasure to many. Valentine's Day will soon be here.

"O my Luve's like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June."

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