William J. (Billy) Tait
1918 - 1992
Born in Yell.
Taught in Lerwick, then on the mainland, and retired to Shetland in later life.
He wrote poetry in Shetland dialect, English, and Scots, was nationally
recognised and widely published in his lifetime. His work has been acclaimed
for both its quality and its scope. His collection of poems A Day
Between Weathers, was published in 1980 by Paul
His remarkable dialect writing includes translations from, among others, the
French poets Villon and Ronsard. In his poem ‘A Hogmanay Sermon’, he advises
Shetland poets: Open your een./ Dunna glinder ida aze. Hit maitters little/ whit wy you look, As
lang as you look hard.
Billy Tait's translation work was highlighted in 2011, when his Villon Le Testament and other translations, was published by Hansel Cooperative Press, in cooperation with Shetland Amenity Trust. The book, which includes much previously unpublished work, has an introduction by Mark Ryan Smith.