Candide

catholic by birth; scientist by choice; sinner by merit. gaidhlig-speaking neuroscience student at oxford. likes to question everything! @di_macd

Headache!

Headache!

Translation of Camhanaich by Sorley MacLean


DAWNING 


You were dawn on the mountain,

And daylight dancing over the water,

A sun on her elbow in the gold-stream

And a white rose breaking the horizon.


Glittering sails on a sunlit kyle

The blue depths and bronzed sky

Morning is young in your hair,

And in your cheeks, bright, beautiful.


My jewel of night and daybreak -

your face, your love and kindness,

Though the arrows of misfortune

Marr this morning of our youth.



NOTE: Both Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith have translated this poem too. This translation is my own, inadequate, work. I have deRassified and simplified the poem to make it more English-friendly. In Gaidhlig the first line “Bu tu camhanaich air a’ Chuilthionn” has an almost Biblical feel in the majesty MacLean sees in Eimhir, but the Cuilthionn means little to non-Highlanders, so I just generalized it to mountains. Gaelic words like ‘og-mhadainn’ have no real English equivalents either, so I just gave up and made up something similar. I hope you enjoy my translation.

This is where I live. The Island of Eriskay in the Western Isles of Scotland. Fr Allan MacDonald wrote (in Gaelic):

"Should I even have my choice
I’d prefer of all in Europe
A dwelling place beside the wave
In the lovely Isle of Youth.
It’s bare of foliage, bare of bent-grass,
Bare of barley sowing,
But beautiful for all its bareness
Is each sod of it to me.”

This is where I live. The Island of Eriskay in the Western Isles of Scotland. Fr Allan MacDonald wrote (in Gaelic):

"Should I even have my choice

I’d prefer of all in Europe

A dwelling place beside the wave

In the lovely Isle of Youth.

It’s bare of foliage, bare of bent-grass,

Bare of barley sowing,

But beautiful for all its bareness

Is each sod of it to me.”

Sometimes, I try to deny a part of their beauty,

Setting them against

Other gifts the God of Grace gave us

But notwithstanding my tribulations

I’ll admit and It’ll be said to me

That there was nought ever as handsome without soul

As the little flower of the desert.

—   from Flowers by Domhnall Eirisgeach, translated from Gaelic by Candide