Derick Thomson’s An Rathad Cian (The Far Road, 1970): Modern Gaelic Poetry of Place Between Introspection and Politics

  • Petra Johana Poncarová
Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)


In The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature (2006), Michel Byrne praises Derick Thomson’s third collection, An Rathad Cian (The Far Road, 1970), as “the most extraordinary homage to place in Gaelic literature”. Given the widely acknowledged, conspicuous prominence of poetry about places in Gaelic literature, it is a large claim indeed. The cycle of fifty-six poems is devoted entirely to Thomson’s native Lewis and explores different aspects of the island, its history and people, and of the speaker’s complex relationship to the place. This essay reads the collection in the context of the rich tradition of Gaelic writing about places—a tradition on which Thomson draws but at the same time breaks away from—and also of the poet’s oeuvre, where An Rathad Cian marks a distinct change in theme and form and closes one significant episode of Thomson’s poetry. It offers close readings of several poems, such as “An Uilebheist” (The Monster) and “Bùrn is mòine is coirc” (“Water and Peat and Oats”).

Works Cited

Derick Thomson’s Poetry Collections

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  7. Sùil air Fàire/ Surveying the Horizon. Stornoway: Acair, 2007.Google Scholar
  8. Smeur an Dòchais / Bramble of Hope. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1991.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra Johana Poncarová
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anglophone Literatures and CulturesCharles UniversityPragueCzechia

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