r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: The White Swan

The White Swan




Donald MacDonald, (known as Red Donald of Corùna), was a North Uist stonemason, a veteran of the First World War and a legendary war poet in the Gaelic language. He’s best known for the song An Eala Bhàn, “The White Swan” which he composed during the Battle of the Somme. It’s been performed by a huge number of Gaelic artists from Julie Fowlis to Capercaillie and Linda Macleod who grew up in the same part of North Uist as Donald MacDonald. She speaks here to Cathy McDonald about the significance of the song and the man behind it. - from  BBC World War One At Home


Gur duilich leam mar tha mi Sad I consider my condition
'S mo chridhe 'n sas aig bron With my heart engaged with sorrow
Bhon an uair a dh'fhag mi From the very time that I left
Beanntan ard a'cheo The high bens of the mist
Gleanntannan a'mhanrain The little glens of dalliance
Nan loch, nam bagh 's nan srom Of the lochans, the bays and the forelands
'S an eala bhan tha tamh ann And the white swan dwelling there
Gach la air 'm bheil mi 'n toir Whom I daily pursue
  
A Mhagaidh na bi tursach Maggie, don't be sad
A ruin, ged gheibhinn bas Love, if I should die
Co am fear am measg an t-sluaigh Who among men
A mhaireas buan gu brath? Endures eternally?
Chan eil sinn uile ach air chuairt We are all only on a journey
Mar dhithein buaile fas Like flowers in the deserted cattle fold
Bheir siantannan na blianna sios That the year's wind and rain will bring down
'S nach tog a'ghrian an aird And that the sun cannot raise
  
Tha 'n talamh leir mun cuairt dhiom All the ground around me
'N mheallan suas 's na neoil Is like hail in the heavens
Aig na 'shells' a'bualadh With the shells exploding
Cha leir dhomh bhuam le ceo I am blinded by smoke
Gun chlaisneachd aig mo chluasan My ears are deafened
Le fuaim a'ghunna mhoir By the roar of the cannon
Ach ged tha 'n uair seo cruaidh orm But despite the savagery of the moment
Tha mo smuaintean air NicLeoid My thoughts are on the girl called MacLeod
  
Air m'uilinn anns na truinnsichean Crouched in the trenches
Tha m'inntinn ort, a ghraidh My mind is fixed on you, love
Nam chadal bidh mi a'bruadar ort In sleep I dream of you
Cha dualach dhomh bhith slan I am not fated to survive
Tha m'aigne air a lionadh My spirit is filled
Le cianalas cho lan With a surfeit of longing
'S a' ghruag a dh'fhas cho ruadh orm And my hair once so auburn
A nis air thuar bhith ban Is now almost white
  
Oidhche mhath leat fhein, a ruin Good night to you, love
Nad leabaidh chubhraidh bhlath In your warm, sweet-smelling bed
Cadal samhach air a chul May you have peaceful sleep and afterwards
Do chusgadh sunndach slan May you waken healthy and in good spirits
Tha mise 'n seo 's an truinnsidh fhuar I am here in the cold trench
'S nam chluasan fuaim a' bhais With the clamor of death in my ears
Gun duil ri faighinn as le buaidh With no hope of returning victorious
Tha 'n cuan cho buan ri shnamh The ocean is too wide to swim


                                               Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna
                                                         (1887-1967)

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