These great people like MacDiarmid are a bit scary , says Scottish poet Liz Lochhead. And Kathleen Jamie: Drunk? Men? Thistle? What? ...No. No, not for me . It was not ever thus. Dylan Thomas declared: Every door in any town should be wide open to that great lyric poet Hugh MacDiarmid . Sean O'Casey was of a like mind: Lord God, this fellow is a poet, singing a song even when pain seizes him, or the woe of the world murmurs in his heart ; and Yeats wrote to him to say, You have done many lovely and passionate things . His beloved sparring partner Norman MacCaig issued a warning: Watch him, an angel's set his tongue on fire . The extraordinary man he was, brilliant, volatile, prejudiced, generous, emerges clearly in his letters. No previous collection has so essentialized the man. It includes many previously unpublished letters drawn from his long and controversial life, in particular the letters to his first wife which deal with his breakdown and the letters in which, through the agency of love for his second wife Valda, he remade himself. Among the editors is his own grandson, Dorian Grieve.