Poetry by Henry Marsh – The Guidman’s Daughter



The Hammer and the Fire
93 page hardback
Maclean Dubois 2011. Distributed by Birlinn Ltd.
ISBN 9-780956-527820

‘The collection begins with a powerful section on John Knox – a section that provides us with astonishing insights into the conditions of the Scottish reformation and its extraordinary leader. Then there are poems that dwell on that territory that this poet has made so much his own: the beguiling landscape of the West of Scotland and its islands. Not since the poetry of Sorley Maclean and a very small number of his contemporaries in the literary renaissance of the mid-twentieth century has any poet captured so powerfully the world of that part of Scotland.

This superb collection of poetry is a major contribution to Scottish literature of the early twenty-first century. It is the work of a generous spirited man who is much beloved of numerous past pupils and so many others. It is the work of a man who, like any truly good poet, has something powerful and moving to share with us.’

Alexander McCall Smith

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Cover image of the Rosette nebula by
Dr Nick Wright, University College London and the Centre for Astrophysical Research, University of Hertfordshire.


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Inside History: John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots

24th November 2011, Scottish Storytelling Centre, John Knox House, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR. A one-off music and poetry event in the unique setting of the John Knox House as part of Scotland’s first history festival, Previously.

‘I remember standing on the remains of Fotheringhay Castle and suddenly being filled with great indignation – how dare they. Mary, Queen of Scots had been imprisoned in England for eighteen years before her execution in February 1587. At the age of 19, already the Dowager Queen of France, a Roman Catholic, she had returned to Scotland and stepped into the maelstrom of the Reformation. Her life was set on tragedy. After finishing a sequence of Mary poems, I was in St Giles and happened across the statue of John Knox. I was intrigued by the paradox – Knox had become a ‘graven image’ in the Kirk where he had preached so vehemently against idolatry.’

‘It has been a great joy, and a sort of privilege, to explore these extraordinary moments in Scottish history. When all is said and done, the protagonists were locked in a passionate debate about values that mirror, to some extent, the profound ideological conflicts of our own times.’

Henry Marsh, who read poems on Knox and Mary Queen of Scots from the collections Guidman’s Daughter (2009) and The Hammer and the Fire (2011).

© Henry Marsh 2008-2012

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