What an amazing book! Beginning with a fascinating examination of the evolution and dissolution of Scottish Gaelic, which in turn leads to a brief history of the Scottish Gaels, Wilson McLeod and Meg Bateman then move on to explain the different forms of Gaelic poetry. The poems, from the seventh century to the seventeenth, are in full text, not shortened, and presented in Gaelic as well as translated into modern English. As I said, amazing.
I fell in love with a couple of poems, circa 1200, attributed to Deirdre, a famous character of Gaelic legend. I named my character Deidre after her. Her name means sorrowful or broken-hearted, and her story is, indeed, tragic. She lived in ancient Ireland and was to marry an Irish king. But she fell in love with a young warrior named Naos (Naoise, Naisi). They ran away together to Scotland, along with his two brothers, and enjoyed a happy interlude there. But in the end they returned to Ireland because they were urged to to do so with the promise that they would be safe and welcome. But they were betrayed, resulting in the murder of Naos and his brothers and Deirdre's suicide.
I cannot not reproduce the poems as they are translated in this excellent book due to copyright restrictions. But if you enjoy poetry or are interested in Scottish literature or history, I encourage you to look into it. Meg Bateman, who translated the poems from the Gaelic, states in her note about the translation that she has given "pre-eminence to rhythm". It certainly shows in her work.
However, since the poems attributed to a medieval legend are (obviously) very old, they are translated and shared elsewhere. The most famous ballad, Deirdre's Lament, is a heartrending love song to Scotland. I found the following translation at Glen of the Red River, which is a great website.
No one knows for sure who composed the ballad, but Deirdre (of legend) gets the credit.
“My love to thee, yonder land land in the east,”
“and sad it is for me to leave the sides of thy bays and harbours,
and of thy smooth-flowered, lovely meadows,
and of thy green-sided delightful knolls.
And little did we need to do so. ”
A land dear (to me) is you land in the east,
Alba with (its) wonders,
I would not have come hither out of it
Were I not coming with Naisi.
Dear are Dun-fidhga and Dun-finn;
Dear is the Dun above them;
Dear is Inis Draigen, also;
And dear is Dun Suibhne.
Caill Cuan !
To which Ainnle used to resort, alas!
Short I deemed the time
With Naisi on the coast of Alba.
Glen Laidh !
I used to sleep under a lovely rock ;
Fish and venison and fat of badger ;
That was my food in Glen Laidh.
Glen Masain !
Tall its sorrel, white its tufts;
We used to have unsteady sleep
Above the shaggy Inver of Masain.
Glen Etive !
There I built my first house:
Lovely its woods after rising
(A cattlefold of the sun is Glen Etive).
Glen Urchain ! (Glenorchy)
It was the straight, fair-ridged glen :
Not more gallant was a man of his age
Than Naisi in Glen Urchain !
Glen Daruadh (Glendaruel)
Dear to me each of its native men ;
Sweet the cuckoo’s note on bending bough,
On the peak above Glen Daruadh.
Dear (to me) is Draigen with its great beach ;
Dear its water in pure sand :
I would not have come out of it from the east,
Were I not coming with my beloved.
Deirdre sounds homesick even as she's leaving, doesn't she? And knowing what happens afterward makes it all the sadder. But at least she experienced love in a beautiful land.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit authors Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis -- magnificent Ladies of Medieval Monday!
Wishing you a wonderful day and week ahead!
Tremors Through Time
Available at your favorite online bookstore.
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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