Sydney Goodsir Smith

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The grave of Sydney Goodsir Smith, Dean Cemetery

Sydney Goodsir Smith (26 October 1915 – 15 January 1975) was a Scottish poet, artist, dramatist and novelist. He wrote poetry in literary Scots often referred to as Lallans, and was a major figure of the Scottish Renaissance.

He was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and moved to Edinburgh with his family in 1928.[1] He was at school at Malvern College. He went to Edinburgh University to study medicine, but abandoned that, and started to read history at Oriel College, Oxford; whence he was expelled, but managed to complete a degree.

His first poetry collection of many, Skail Wind, was published in 1941. Carotid Cornucopius (1947) was a comic novel about Edinburgh. His play The Wallace formed part of the 1960 Edinburgh Festival.

Smith was also associated with the editorial board for the Lines Review magazine.[2][3]

Under the Eildon tree (1948), a long poem in 24 parts, is considered by many his finest work;[1] The Grace of God and the Meth-Drinker is a much-anthologised poem. Kynd Kittock's land (1964) was a commission of a poem to be televised by the BBC.

He died in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh[2] after a heart attack outside a newsagents on Dundas Street in Edinburgh and was buried in Dean Cemetery in the northern 20th century section, towards the north-west.

He is now commemorated in the Makars' Court.


  • Skail wind - poems, Edinburgh, The Chalmers press, 1941
  • The wanderer, and other poems, Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1943
  • The deevil’s waltz, Glasgow, W. MacLellan, 1946
  • Selected poems, Edinburgh, published for The Saltire Society by Oliver and Boyd, 1947
  • So late into the night - fifty lyrics, 1944-1948, with a preface by Edith Sitwell, London, P. Russell, 1952
  • Robert Ferguson, 1750-1774, Edinburgh, Nelson, 1952
  • Orpheus and Eurydice - a dramatic poem, Edinburgh, M. Macdonald, 1955
  • Figs and thistles, Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1959
  • The Wallace, a triumph in five acts, Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1960
  • Carotid Cornucopius, caird of the Cannon Gait and voyeur of the Outlook Touer, Edinburgh, M. Macdonald, 1964
  • Kynd Kittock’s land, Edinburgh, M. Macdonald, 1965
  • Fifteen poems and a play, Edinburgh, Southside, 1969
  • Collected poems, 1941-1975, with an introduction by Hugh McDiarmid, London, John Calder, 1975
  • The drawings of Sydney Goodsir Smith, poet, collected by Ian Begg, edited by Joy Hendry, Edinburgh, Chapman Press, on behalf of The New Auk Society, 1998


  1. 1.0 1.1 "About Sydney Goodsir Smith". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 22 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Smith, Sydney Goodsir". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/58855.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Royle, Trevor (29 April 1998). "Lines reaches the end". The Scotsman  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 22 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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