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In a time of great uncertainty and debate about immigration to the UK I am pleased to have found this slim poetry volume examining the emotional issue from the points of view of Scots exiled overseas. Crichton Smith's poems recount and imagine the experiences of elderly men who will never return home, women whose children are far away, and people meeting again after decades apart. The collection depicts sorrow and longing, sometimes almost overwhelmingly so, and I found the tiniest details to be the most poignant. One poem describes a return to a village that has changed almost beyond recognition; in another a man talks of the loneliness of always being the foreigner no matter how long one might have lived in one's adopted home. The forty poems in The Exiles are beautiful and powerful while also being, mostly, easily accessible. Written over thirty years ago, they are a reminder of the timelessness of memories and the universal human experience of longing for home.
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