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

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

Camhanaich - Sorley MacLean (with translation!)


"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.

“I’ll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they wont’ just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…”

—   Lyra Silvertongue on the diatomic nature of her love for Will.