Norman MacCaig (1910-1996), that most elegant and sophisticated of modern Scottish poets, can't really have seen himself as an untransformed frog.

But he did have an enthusiasm for amphibians that encompassed toads as well. The magisterial volume of his poems, edited by his son Ewen, is published by Polygon at £19.95.


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People have said to me, You seem to like frogs.

They keep jumping into your poems.

I do. I love the way they sit

compact as a cat and as indifferent

to everything but style, like a lady remembering

to keep her knees together. And I love

the elegant way they jump and

the inelegant way they land.

So human.

I feel so close to them

I must be froggish myself.

I look in the mirror expecting to see

a fairy-tale Prince.

But no. It's just sprawling me,

croaking away

and swivelling my eyes around

for the stealthy heron and his stabbing beak.