His first poetry was written in English, but after studying
a Scots dictionary, he used words from different dialects to
build up a literary Scots language. His best-known work, A Drunk
Man Looks at the Thistle, was published in 1926, a self-parodic
poem of meditation and introspection. But the work he did in
the 1930s was acknowledged as his best. He swayed between political
parties, at times joining Labour, the Communists, and helping
found the SNR.