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.”
"Bu tu camhanaich air a’ Chuilthionn,
's latha suilbhir air a' Chlàraich,
grian air a h-uilinn anns an òr-shruth,
agus ròs geal bristeadh fàire.
Làinnir sheòl air linne ghrianaich,
Gorm a’ chuain is iarmailt àr-bhuidh,
An òg-mhadainn ‘na do chuailean
‘s na do ghruaidhean soilleir àllainn.
Mo leug camhanaich is oidhche
T’ aodann ‘s do choibhneas gràdhach,
Ged tha bior glas an dòlais
Tro chliabh m’òg-mhaidne sàthte.”
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.
Glitter of sails on a sunlit firth
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. I borrowed one line from Smith “glitter of sails on a sunlit firth” but otherwise the 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.