Bàrdachd ’na saiceòlas cogaidh

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Tha dàimh shònraichte eadar cogadh agus bàrdachd, ’s tha siud air a dhearbhadh ann am Beneath Troubled Skies: Poems of Scotland at War, 1914–1918, deasaichte le Lizzie MacGregor (Scottish Poetry Library/ Poly-gon, £12.99). Tha bàrdachd ann sna trì chànanan: Beurla; Albais (le faclan doirbh air am mìneachadh); Gàidhlig (le dreach Beurla mu coinneamh).

Tha an leabhar ’na shia roinn-ean, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918 ‘s as déidh a’ chogaidh. Ri gach gin tha roi-ràdh beag feumail le Yvonne McEwen a’ mìneachadh dé bha a’ tachairt. Ach bheir mi sùil an seo air na dàin fhéin.

Tha 1914 làn pròis, làn arra-ghlòir, òrain seach dàin, séistean mar “Auld Scotland counts for something still” agus “God was good to grant this chance / To fight for freedom furth in France”. Aig Charles Hamilton Sorley bha smuaintean nach buin ri nàimhdean an latha an-diugh, leithid Isis: gu bheil muinntir na Gearmailt cho gasta ruinn fhìn. “Grown more loving-kind and warm / We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain, / When it is peace.”

A réir Hew Strachan, ann an roi-ràdh an leabhair, se Sorley tha seo “perhaps Scotland’s greatest war poet”. Chan eil mi dol a dhol ás àicheadh sin.

Tha aon òran Gàidhlig an roinn 1914, an aon phìos Gàidhlig san leabhar nach do nochd ann an duanairean roimhe: ‘Cabhlach an Rìgh’ le Uilleam MacCormaig á Muile, a fhuair bàs ann an teine air bòrd HMS Hannibal ann an 1915. Faclan leithid: “An fhairge mhìn rèidh a tha romhpa / Ag èirigh na cnocan nan dèidh, / Borb-ghoil aig gach deireadh a’ seudail / Mar uisgeachan steud-shruth nan leum.”

Se Pàdraig MacAoidh a rinn a’ Bheurla. “The sea is calm before them / But thrown into hills in their wake: / It glitters, fierce-boiling behind them; / Waterhorses stream through a break.” Seo aon stoidhle eadar-theangachaidh, agus tha diofar stoidhlichean, le diofar dhaoine, san leabhar – mar eisimpleir, tha stoidhle Iain MhicDhòmhnaill buileach litireil. Nam b’e mise bh’ ann bhithinn a’ beachdachadh air “rear” agus “leap” seach “wake” agus “break”, agus bhiodh eagal orm eich-uisge thoirt a-staigh nuair nach eil iad sa Ghàidhlig.

Ach se am prionnsabal as cudromaiche mu eadar-theang-achaidhean bàrdachd “Mar as motha dhiubh sann as fheàrr”.

Ann an roinn 1915 dh’fhalbh pròis agus arraghlòir, thàinig iongnadh agus mealladh dùil. Ann a ‘The Green Grass’ le Joseph Lee tha séist “Why am I dead?” Tha Sorley (a fhuair bàs am blàr Loos ann an Dàmhair na bliadhna sin) a’ crìochnachadh dàn a sgrìobh e air 12 Ògmhios “And your bright Promise, withered long and sped, / Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet / And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.”

Seo mac an duine ’na bhlàth cùbhraidh – ’na chuimhne a-mhàin. “Promise . . . is you.” Mar gum b’e leanabh a bhàsaich.

Tha dàin mar ‘Soldier, Sol-dier’ aig Lee a’ sealltainn gun do bhris fìrinn troimhe. “Soldier, soldier, sound will be your sleep, / You will never waken, though you hear her weep.” Tha guth nam boireannach làidir san leabhar, ’s chan eil dad nas làidire na ‘Nostra Culpa’ anns a bheil Margaret Sackville a’ càineadh boireannaich a chuir an taice ris a’ chogadh. Bha i creidsinn gun robh cumhachd aig boireannaich nam b’e ’s gun cuireadh iad gu feum e. “What shall we plead? That we were deaf and blind? / We mothers and we murderers of mankind.”

Tha dàn ann le W. B. Gardner á Dunsyre, ‘The Fallen at Gretna’. Sann aig Gretna ann an 1915 a thachair tubaist rèile bu chòir a chur ri taobh call an Iolaire, ach gur ann air an rathad chun a’ chogaidh a bha a’ mhórchuid de na 214 a fhuair bàs. “O’er crimson fields and mountains steep / They sought to roam, / Till Fate decreed that they should sleep / Much nearer home.” Aig an aon àm bha dòchas beò ann an duais na mairtireachd, “hope in beneficent pain”, mar a chì sinn ann an ‘Lines before Going’ le Alexander Robertson.

Tha trì dàin Ghàidhlig san earrainn seo, ‘Luach na Saorsa’ le Murchadh Moireach, ‘Òran a’ Phuinnsein’ le Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna agus ‘Òran don Chogadh’ aig Pàdruig Moireasdan. Tha Gaidheal eile a’ nochdadh le dà dhàn, Niall Rothach á Inbhir Aora, aig an robh Gàidhlig ach a bhiodh a’ sgrìobhadh san dà chànan eile. A’ cuimhneachadh air eachdraidh nan Gaidheal tha e ag ràdh: “Men are to kill in the morn’s mornin’; / Here we’re back to your daddy’s trade.” Cha robh esan anns na trainnsichean (ach chaill e mac), agus ann am ‘Mother’ tha e a’ moladh tròcaire ris an nàmhaid.

Tha an smuaint gu bheil clann nan daoine an sàs còmhla ann an còmhstri gun chiall a’ lean-tainn gu cunbhalach tro 1916. Bha Fritz agus Jack a’ bàsachadh le chéile sa pholl. “I knew that we had suffered each as other, / And could have grasped your hand and cried, ‘My brother!’” (Lee a-rithist). A réir Yvonne McEwen bha am facal futile a’ nochdadh a-nis anns na pàipearan.

Tha Strachan ag ràdh: “Much of the subject matter of war – on existence at the borders between life and death, on coping with loss, and on finding meaning in suffering – inherently lends itself to poetry.” Tha ‘War’ le John Peterson á Sealtainn mu na trainnsichean “Where your body will be filth-clad, / And your soul will fade away”. Tha iad ag ràdh nach eil anam aig na h-ainmhidhean. Uill, tha cogadh a’ dèanamh ainmhidhean de dhaoine.

A-rithist, a’ bruidhinn mun dealbh a tha na dàin a’ tarraing de dh’Alba, tha Strachan ag ràdh “that it is not one shaped by religion (the Kirk is entirely absent from this collection), but across Europe the war seems to have done more to promote the loss of faith than to affirm it”. Agus gu dearbh tha Peterson ag ràdh, “And you’ll keep on carrying on, / (Or God loves you, and you die).” Chan e ‘War’ an seòrsa dàin a sgrìobhadh saighdear sna trainnsichean ach nuair a bha e seachad, oir chan eil dòchas ann (bha Peterson beò gu 1972). Ach tha na facail “God loves you, and you die” a’ toirt dhuinn tuigse air beatha agus inntinn nan creutairean dìblidh a tha a’ leigeil bomaichean dheth ann am meadhan Brussels.

Chan eil Gàidhlig sam bith ann an ‘1916’, ach ann an ‘1917’ tha aon de na dàin as fheàrr a thàinig ás a’ chogadh ann an cànan sam bith, ‘Òran Arras’ aig Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna. “’Illean, March at ease . . .” Tha a’ chaothaich ann, agus gach nì eile. “Mar dhaoin’ ás an rian / Nì sinn sgian a tharraing.”

Tha an dà earrainn mu dheireadh a’ déileadh ris an sgrios a thug an cogadh air teaghlaichean ’s luchd-gaoil. Tha ‘Raoir Reubadh an Iolaire’ le Murchadh MacPhàrlain iomchaidh am measg a’ chòrr. “O nach tug thu dhuinn beò iad, / A chuain, thoir dhuinn bàtht’ iad.” Ach bheir mi am facal mu dheireadh do dhàn a rinn May Wedderburn Cannan mu rud a chual’ i san oifis far an robh i ag obair. “My man was killed,” tha té ag ràdh, “three years ago . . . / And he’s my Man, and I want him.”

Le bhith a’ ceangal bàrd-achd ri eachdraidh, tha Beneath Troubled Skies a’ toirt cunntas luachmhor grinn air saiceòlas cogaidh.

O CHIONN 80 BLIADHNA– ON WEEKLY SCOTSMAN, 28 MÀRT 1936

Bha uair is bha bàtaichean na Gàidhealtachd màirnealach, neo-sgeanail, ach an diugh tha iad astarach agus eireachdail. An fheadhainn a thig am mach mu thoiseach an t-samhraidh, tha iad sònruichte bòidheach, agus comasach air tim mhath a chumail aig gach baile puirt a th’aca ri thathaich.

Chan eil am pobull an earbsa riu a nis cho mór ’sa bha iad aig aon àm, oir tha carbadan iaruinn agus luingis-athair air tighinn gu bhi air an cur gu feum a chum muinntir a thoirt air an ais is air an adhart le comhfhurtachd agus cabhaig.

An ùine gun a bhi fada, bidh bàtaichean-athair a’ dol do gach cearn de’n Ghàidhealtachd an Iar, ceart mar tha bàtaichean-smùide a’ dol an tràsda do gach àite a th’air oir na mara. An uair a thig an t-àm sin, cha ruigear leas a bhi gearan air moille ar siubhail, agus bidh Tir nam Beann cho dlùth air na bailtean margaidh is ged a bhiodh i air a tarruing gu deas le eich is amaill. Anns an latha so th’againn, tha na bàtaichean-smùide ri obair mhath dhuinn, agus cha bhiomaid ach dona dheth ás an eugmhais.

Am fear is faide saoghal is e is mò a chì, agus bu mhath leinn fios a bhi againn ’dé am modh aisig a bhios ann an ceann leth-cheud bliadhna. Aon ni tha coltach, is e gu’m bi ar bàtaichean luatha air am meas mall, neo-ghoireasach mu’n téid leth na h-aimsir sin seachad.

Bidh daoine triall le deifir agus bidh athar na’s docha leo na uisge.

GAELIC GUIDE FOR LEARNERS

This is the first of three articles which will discuss some misconceptions about the Gaelic language. Here, we address the issue of how to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in Gaelic.

When people say that there are no Gaelic words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ they are, in a sense, correct. It is true to say there are no single words in Gaelic that mean ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in every situation. There are, however, as many words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in Gaelic as there are verbs in the language. The positive and negative forms of the verb are used to make the appropriate response to a question. A few examples will demonstrate:

1: A bheil thu sgìth? (Are you tired?)

Tha (Yes). Chan eil (No).

2: An robh thu sgìth an-dè? (Were you tired yesterday?)

Bha (Yes). Cha robh (No).

3: An do sheinn thu? (Did you sing?)

Sheinn (Yes). Cha do sheinn (No).

4: An òl thu uisge-beatha? (Will you drink whisky?)

Òlaidh (Yes). Chan òl (No).

You can see it is important to listen carefully to the question. An inattentive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ just won’t work in Gaelic.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig offers Gaelic learning opportunities at the College and by distance -learning. www. smo.uhi.ac.uk

PLACE NAME OF THE WEEK

Lochnagar - Loch na Gàire / Beinn nan Cìochan

The name of this famous mountain is puzzling: Why does it have the name of a loch? The exact reason is unknown but the name comes from a small loch on the north face of the mountain; this is Loch na Gàire, ‘loch of the outcry’, thought to take its name from the howling wind in the rocks.

This gives rise to the question, what was the mountain called in Gaelic? The answer is Beinn nan Cìochan, ‘the hill of the paps’ (pap is used here in the sense of ‘hill’). This was the name recorded from the last generation of native speakers of Aberdeenshire Gaelic. The paps in question are called in Scots the Meikle Pap and the Little Pap. These are translations from the Gaelic names, since the name for the Meikle Pap has been recovered as A’ Chìoch Mhòr, of exactly the same meaning.

For more information visit Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba at www.ainmean-aite.org

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