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" The songs of our ancestors

are also the songs of our children "

The Druid Way

An Eala Bhàn

December 7th, 2016

swan-lovers

This beautiful Scottish Gaelic love song was writen by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna for his love Magaidh NicLeòid. Dòmhnall composed the song as a love letter whilst in the trenches at the battle of the Somme during the First World War. This gives his words such poignancy and power. I include here the lyrics both in the Gaelic and English and a video of Karen Matheson performing a very touching version.

Gur duilich leam mar tha mi
‘S mo chridhe ‘n sàs aig bròn
Bhon an uair a dh’fhàg mi
Beanntan àrd a’ cheò
Gleanntannan a’mhànrain
Nan loch, nam bàgh ‘s nan sròm
‘S an eala bhàn tha tàmh ann
Gach latha air ‘m bheil mi ‘n tòir.
A Mhagaidh na bi tùrsach
A rùin, ged gheibhinn bàs-
Cò am fear am measg an t-sluaigh
A mhaireas buan gu bràth?
Chan eil sinn uile ach air chuairt
Mar dhìthein buaile fàs
Bheir siantannan na blianna sios
‘S nach tog a’ ghrian an àird.
Tha ‘n talamh leir mun cuairt dhìom
‘Na mheallan suas ‘s na neòil;
Aig na ‘shells a’ bualadh –
Cha leir dhomh bhuam le ceò:
Gun chlaisneachd aig mo chluasan
Le fuaim a’ ghunna mhòir;
Ach ged tha ‘n uair seo cruaidh orm
Tha mo smuaintean air NicLeòid.
Air m’ uilinn anns na truinnsichean
Tha m’ inntinn ort, a ghràidh;
Nam chadal bidh mi a’ bruadar ort
Cha dualach dhomh bhith slàn;
Tha m’ aigne air a lionadh
Le cianalas cho làn
‘S a’ghruag a dh’fhàs cho ruadh orm
A nis air thuar bhith bàn.
Ach ma thig an t-àm
Is anns an Fhraing gu faigh mi bàs
‘S san uaigh gun tèid mo shìneadh
Far eil na mìltean chàch,
Mo bheannachd leis a’ ghruagaich,
A’ chaileag uasal bhàn –
Gach là a dh’fhalbh gun uallach dhi,
Gun nàire gruaidh na dhàil.
Oidhche mhath leat fhèin, a rùin
Nad leabaidh chùbhraidh bhlàth;
Cadal sàmhach air a chùl
Do dhùsgadh sunndach slàn.
Tha mise ‘n seo ‘s an truinnsidh fhuar
‘S nam chluasan fuaim bhàis
Gun duil ri faighinn às le buaidh –
Tha ‘n cuan cho buan ri shnàmh.
Sad I consider my condition
With my heart engaged with sorrow
From the very time that I left
The high bens of the mist
The little glens of dalliance
Of the lochs, the bays and the forelands
And the white swan dwelling there
Whom I daily pursue.
O Maggie, don’t be sad
Love, if I should die –
Who among men
Endures eternally?
We are all only on a journey
Like flowers in the deserted cattle fold
That the year’s wind and rain will bring down
And that the sun cannot raise.
All the ground around me
Is like hail in the heavens;
With the shells exploding –
I am blinded by smoke:
My ears are deafened
By the roar of the cannon;
But despite the savagery of the moment
My thoughts are on the girl called MacLeod.
Crouched in the trenches
My mind is fixed on you, love;
In sleep I dream of you
I am not fated to survive;
My spirit is filled
With a surfeit of longing
And my hair once so auburn
Is now almost white.
But if it should happen
That I am killed in France
And laid in the grave
As thousands are already,
My blessings go with the maiden,
So noble and fair.
May her every day be free of care,
And her life a source of pride.
Goodnight to you, love
In your warm, sweet-smelling bed;
May you have peaceful sleep and afterwards
May you waken healthy and in good spirits.
I am here in the cold trench
With the clamour of death in my ears
With no hope of returning victorious-
The ocean is too wide to swim.

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