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TITLE
'Reothairt' (Spring Tide)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_SORLEY_MACLEAN_GAELIC_02
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Sorley MacLean
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1449
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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The poem 'Reothairt' was written by Sorley Maclean. It is read here by Norman MacDonald. (Image by kind permission of Dr. Julian Toms.)

Reothairt

Uair is uair agus mi briste
thig mo smuain ort is tu òg,
is lìonaidh an cuan do-thuigsinn
le làn-mara 's miìe seòl.

Falaichear cladach na thrioblaid
le bhodhannan is tiùrr a' bhròin
is buailidh an tonn gun bhristeadh
mu m' chasan le suathadh sròil.

Ciamar nach do mhair an reothairt
bu bhuidhe dhomh na do na h-eòin,
agus a chaill mi a cobhair
's i tràghadh boinn' air bhoinne bròin?

The English translates as:

Spring Tide

Again and again when I am broken
my thought comes on you when you were young,
and the incomprehensible ocean fills
with floodtide and a thousand sails.

The shore of trouble is hidden
with its reefs and the wrack of grief,
and the unbreaking wave strikes
about my feet with a silken rubbing.

How did the springtide not last,
the springtide more golden to me than to the birds,
and how did I lose its succour,
ebbing drop by drop of grief?

The poet Sorley Maclean is one of the key figures in modern Scottish literature. Born at Oscaig on the island of Raasay in 1911, he attended Raasay Primary School and Portree High School before going on to study English at Edinburgh University. He took up teaching and held posts in Tobermory, Hawick and Edinburgh before being promoted to headmaster of Plockton High School where he remained until his retirement in 1972.

Having been born into a family of traditional singers and pipers, and brought up within a community steeped in Gaelic language and culture, Sorley Maclean appropriately chose Gaelic as the medium for his poetry. However, he later translated much of his work into English opening it up to a much wider audience. He was also brought to the public's attention with the publication of Gordon Wright's 'Four Points of a Saltire' (1970).

Maclean was influenced by the metaphysical poets as well as ancient Celtic literature and traditional Gaelic song. His seminal work, 'Dain do Eimhir agus Dain Eile' (Poems to Eimhir and Other Poems), written in the late 1930s, addresses issues of love, as well as political injustice. Maclean had similar Communist and Nationalist leanings as his friend, Hugh MacDiarmid, and events such as the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Facism influenced his work. His major collection of poems, 'Reothairt is Contraigh' (Spring Tide and Neap Tide), was published in 1977.

As well as sparking off a revival in Gaelic literature Sorley Maclean was instrumental in the promotion of Gaelic language teaching in Scottish schools. Amongst his awards was the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1990. He died in 1996 at the age of 85, survived by his wife and two daughters.

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'Reothairt' (Spring Tide)

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Sorley Maclean

The poem 'Reothairt' was written by Sorley Maclean. It is read here by Norman MacDonald. (Image by kind permission of Dr. Julian Toms.)<br /> <br /> Reothairt<br /> <br /> Uair is uair agus mi briste<br /> thig mo smuain ort is tu òg,<br /> is lìonaidh an cuan do-thuigsinn<br /> le làn-mara 's miìe seòl.<br /> <br /> Falaichear cladach na thrioblaid<br /> le bhodhannan is tiùrr a' bhròin<br /> is buailidh an tonn gun bhristeadh<br /> mu m' chasan le suathadh sròil.<br /> <br /> Ciamar nach do mhair an reothairt<br /> bu bhuidhe dhomh na do na h-eòin,<br /> agus a chaill mi a cobhair<br /> 's i tràghadh boinn' air bhoinne bròin?<br /> <br /> The English translates as:<br /> <br /> Spring Tide<br /> <br /> Again and again when I am broken<br /> my thought comes on you when you were young,<br /> and the incomprehensible ocean fills<br /> with floodtide and a thousand sails.<br /> <br /> The shore of trouble is hidden<br /> with its reefs and the wrack of grief,<br /> and the unbreaking wave strikes<br /> about my feet with a silken rubbing.<br /> <br /> How did the springtide not last,<br /> the springtide more golden to me than to the birds,<br /> and how did I lose its succour,<br /> ebbing drop by drop of grief?<br /> <br /> The poet Sorley Maclean is one of the key figures in modern Scottish literature. Born at Oscaig on the island of Raasay in 1911, he attended Raasay Primary School and Portree High School before going on to study English at Edinburgh University. He took up teaching and held posts in Tobermory, Hawick and Edinburgh before being promoted to headmaster of Plockton High School where he remained until his retirement in 1972.<br /> <br /> Having been born into a family of traditional singers and pipers, and brought up within a community steeped in Gaelic language and culture, Sorley Maclean appropriately chose Gaelic as the medium for his poetry. However, he later translated much of his work into English opening it up to a much wider audience. He was also brought to the public's attention with the publication of Gordon Wright's 'Four Points of a Saltire' (1970). <br /> <br /> Maclean was influenced by the metaphysical poets as well as ancient Celtic literature and traditional Gaelic song. His seminal work, 'Dain do Eimhir agus Dain Eile' (Poems to Eimhir and Other Poems), written in the late 1930s, addresses issues of love, as well as political injustice. Maclean had similar Communist and Nationalist leanings as his friend, Hugh MacDiarmid, and events such as the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Facism influenced his work. His major collection of poems, 'Reothairt is Contraigh' (Spring Tide and Neap Tide), was published in 1977.<br /> <br /> As well as sparking off a revival in Gaelic literature Sorley Maclean was instrumental in the promotion of Gaelic language teaching in Scottish schools. Amongst his awards was the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1990. He died in 1996 at the age of 85, survived by his wife and two daughters.