Candide

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

When you listen to Sorley MacLean reading his poetry, it sends chills down your spine. His voice is almost like an incantation, echoing down the centuries.

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.

Camhanaich - Sorley MacLean (with translation!)


CAMHANAICH


"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.”



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.


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.