Yogh for the poet

21st June 1996 at 01:00
Not yet in Higher Still, but recognised for Sixth Year Studies in English, are the poems of Robert Henryson. The makar has been "scandalously neglected" according to Gerald Baird, principal teacher of English at Grove Academy, Dundee, but pupils wanting to appreciate his place in the Scottish canon have to face the difficulties of middle Scots, not to mention an extra letter of the alphabet, the yogh.

Baird and the schools and further education committee of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies have produced a booklet in the Scotnotes series to help. So Henryson's version of Aesop's Fables may become better known, and Baird makes a strong case for "The Testament of Cresseid" which he claims is "one of the most powerful and affecting poems which has ever been written in these islands".

Henryson was described by fellow poet William Dunbar as "the schoolmaster of Dunfermline". Amazing what the profession managed to produce before institutes of education and the General Teaching Council.

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