As a child Iain Crichton Smith spoke Gaelic in his village on the island of Lewis. At school in Stornoway he spoke English. Like many islanders before and since, his culture is divided: two languages, two histories entailing exile, a central theme of his poetry in both tongues. His divided perspective sharply delineates the tyranny of history and religion, of the cramped life of small communities; it also gives him a tender eye for the struggle of women and men in a world defined by denials. "Collected Poems" includes forty years' work and proves that big themes - love, history, power, submission, death - can be addressed without the foil of irony and acquire resonance when given a local habitation and a voice that risks pure, impassioned speech.