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Portable Poetry

Alexander Anderson - Songs of the Rails: 'A million sparks of fire burst up, and then fall down like mimic stars''

Alexander Anderson - Songs of the Rails: 'A million sparks of fire burst up, and then fall down like mimic stars''

ISBN-13: 9781787801967
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Alexander Anderson was born on April 30th 1845 in Kirkconnel, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, the sixth and youngest son of James Anderson, a quarrier. When he was three, the family moved to Crocketford in Kirkcudbrightshire where he attended the local school. Years later Anderson would take long walks in the surrounding hills finding inspiration for his poetry from both the stunning landscape and its local reputation for martyrdom. At 16 he was back in his native village working in a quarry. Two years after that, in 1862, he switched careers to the railways becoming a surfaceman or platelayer on the Glasgow and South-western railway. He now used 'Surfaceman' as his pseudonym. Anderson is recognised as one of Scotland's leading poets and, as a young man, he spent much time learning languages such as French, German and Spanish well enough so that he could immerse himself in their poetry and better the quality of his own. By 1870 he was sending poems to 'The People's Friend' of Dundee. In 1873 his first book, 'A Song of Labour and other Poems', was published by the Dundee Advertiser in a print run of 1000. With the support of The People's Friend the run sold out within two weeks. The Rev George Gilfillan, a poetry critic in Dundee, was also effusive in his praise. He wrote to Thomas Aird saying: "You will be greatly interested in his simple manner and appearance?an unspoiled Burns is these respects and not without a little real mens divinor. Of course you know his poetry and his remarkable history". Examples of his poems were also published in the many of the time's leading periodicals Good Words, Chambers's Journal, Cassell's Magazine, Fraser's Magazine and the Contemporary Review. It was a good decade for him. Other poetry volumes were also published: 'Two Angels' (1875), 'Songs of the Rail' (1878), and 'Ballads and Sonnets' (1879). In the following year he was made assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh, and after an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution, which he seemed not to enjoy, he returned as Chief Librarian to the University. Anderson would write no further volumes but would still occasionally contribute to periodicals and magazines. Alexander Anderson died at his home in Edinburgh on 11th July 1909 at age 64. He left behind a number of unpublished poems which were collected and published as 'Later Poems' in 1912

  • | Author: Alexander Anderson
  • | Publisher: Portable Poetry
  • | Publication Date: Sep 10, 2019
  • | Number of Pages: 70 pages
  • | Language: English
  • | Binding: Paperback
  • | ISBN-10: 1787801969
  • | ISBN-13: 9781787801967
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