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Monument to Perth poet unveiled

William Soutar.
William Soutar.

The legacy of Perth’s most famous literary son, the poet William Soutar, has been marked by the unveiling of a monument in his memory.

Soutar was born in the city in 1898 and lived there almost all his life. He published several collections of poetry in English and Scots, including a widely-loved book of children’s rhymes, Seeds in the Wind.

His last 13 years were spent bedridden with the disease ankylosing spondylitis. He died in October 1943, at the age of 45, in his parents’ Perth home, 27 Wilson Street, now known as the Soutar House.

The new monument was unveiled at Makars’ Court, Edinburgh, by Jeanette Soutar from Scone, a cousin of the poet, on what would have been his birthday.

The opening address was given by Councillor Richard Lewis, convener for Culture and Sport, City of Edinburgh Council, who read a short biography of William Soutar.

The flagstone  monument in Edinburgh to Perth poet William Soutar.
The flagstone monument in Edinburgh to Perth poet William Soutar.

Iain Mackintosh, chairman of the Friends of William Soutar, responded by thanking Edinburgh for giving permission to lay a Soutar flagstone .

He also paid tribute to Christine Davis, daughter of Bill Aitken (who edited two collections of Soutar’s works) and a staunch Friend, for providing the motive force for the project.

Sadly, Christine didn’t live to see the flagstone unveiled, but her husband Robin and their family were present.

Three Perthshire schoolchildren then recited works by Soutar — Leah Menzies of Moncreiffe Primary, Morgan Patterson of Strathallan School,  and Charlotte Roach of Viewlands Primary.

Dr Joy Hendry, who had delivered the annual Soutar lecture the previous evening in Perth, gave an appreciation of Soutar as diarist, poet and man. She read extracts from prose and poems and praised Soutar’s resolve to overcome his illness and frustrations in order to be “of some little service” to his readership.

Jim Carruthers, treasurer of the Friends, read Ballad, the poem from which the engraved flagstone quote is taken.

Janette said that she felt privileged to be asked to perform the unveiling and commended the Friends for all their efforts.

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