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Mary MacLeod - (1615-1705) - Poet

Mairi nighean Alasdair Ruaidh, Mary MacLeod, was born at Rodel in Harris. She claimed a connection with the MacLeods of Dunvegan in Skye and lived with them for many years, during which time she composed many songs and verses in the family's honour. From one of her surviving 16 works we discover that she was banished from Dunvegan for a time but was restored to favour in 1699 on the accession of Sir Norman, her favourite among the MacLeod chiefs. Other families who were the subjects of her praise poetry were the Mackenzies of Applecross, MacLeod of Raasay and Macdonald of Sleat, and it is for her proud, lyrical statements of the chiefs' grandeur and open-handed generosity that Mairi is best known. Her panegyrics were composed to be sung, and in all her work there is a careful balance of word to well-timed rhyme and metre. She eschewed classical syllabic metres, preferring the strophic metres that made her work so popular. Like Iain Lom she stands at the watershed between the classical Gaelic poetry of earlier centuries and the flowering of popular versification of the 18th century.

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