I am weary of the speakers of English
I long for some warmth and music
I am truly tired of the speakers of English
I dreamt I saw soldiers
closing in around me
in my nightmare, the Captain Turner
and the ladies: I jumped up in terror
They gave me stone slabs
to walk on, a board for a pillow
A clear conscience helped me then
protected me, kept out all harm
It was good that I felt no guilt
My conscience wasn't choking me
That was what kept me going
when I was in my deep despair
Our land is defiled by sheep
coming up from the South like a plague
There's not a creature that moves
not tormented and torn apart
That was not what I was used to
from the kindly people I knew
They helped each other
They found warmth in being together
Now they're driven over the ocean
by hard-hearted men
No cattle to be heard in the pasture
no herdsmen to call them home
Gone are the kindest of people,
their joys, their songs, their ceilidhs
Where their homes were
now deer run
Where the people lived
a shepherd on every hill
and barking dogs on the moor.
--Màiri Mhór (Mary MacPherson) (1821-1898) was a Gaelic-speaking woman from the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, at a time when the local Gaelic-speaking crofters were being forced to emigrate en masse while the English-speaking landlords put sheep on what had been the common land. She was left a widow with five small children to support, and although she claimed to be innocent, she was thrown into prison for 42 days for petty theft. This was her first song, written there, but she wrote many more and became a well-known poet. Thanks to Donncha for the Gaelic words. The translation is by John McGrath (1935-2002) and Simon MacKenzie (1949-2008), in the liner notes to Catherine-Ann MacPhee Sings Mairi Mhor, issued by Greentrax Recordings, 1994. Perfect photo of abandoned croft in Cabrach by Retsum at Flickr.
Tha mi sgìth de luchd na Beurla,
Tha mi sgìth dhiubh cheart da rìreadh,
'S ann leam fhéin gur fhada 'n céilidh --
Tha mi sgìth de luchd na Beurla.
Chunnaic mise ann am bruadar,
Saighdearan a' tighinn mun cuairt dhomh,
Caiptin Turner's dà mhnaoi uasail,
'S ghabh mi uamhas 's rinn mi éirigh.
Chuir iad mi air leacan fuara,
'S chuir iad bòrd fo m' cheann mar chluasaig,
'S b'fheumail cogais shaor dhomh 'n uair sin --
Chùm i suas mi 's rinn i m'éideadh.
Bu mhath dhòmhsa mar a thachair,
Nach robh chogais 'ga mo thacadh,
Sud an nì a chùm an taic rium,
Nuair a thachair dhomh bhith 'm éiginn.
Tha ar dùthaich air a truailleadh,
Leis a' ghràisg tha tighinn mu thuath òirnn;
Chan eil creutair bochd a ghluaiseas,
Nach téid a chuaradh 's a reubadh.
Cha b'e sud a bha mi faicinn,
Aig na daoine còir' a chleachd mi,
Ach bhith blàth ann an caidreamh,
'S a bhith cumail taic ri chéile.
Tha iad a nis air am fuadach,
Aig an naimhdean thar nan cuantan,
Chan eil geum aig mart air buaile,
'S chan eil buachaille 'nan déidh ann.
Gum b'iad sud na daoine còire,
'S ann 'nam measg a gheibht' a' chòisir;
Far am b'àbhaist daibh bhith còmhnaidh,
'S ann tha ròidean aig na féidh ann.
Far an robh móran de dhaoine,
'S ann a tha e 'n diugh fo chaoraich,
Cìobair am mullach gach maoile,
Coin 'san aonach 's iad ag éigheach.