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Lyr Add: Air an Somme (Gaelic, WW1)

Felipa 01 Jul 21 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Rory 02 Jul 21 - 01:17 AM
Felipa 02 Jul 21 - 07:34 AM
Felipa 02 Jul 21 - 08:20 PM
Felipa 03 Jul 21 - 07:05 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Air an Somme (Gaelic, WW1)
From: Felipa
Date: 01 Jul 21 - 06:57 PM

AIR AN SOMME

(faclan: Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna, 1887-1967; fonn: Julie Fowlis)

An oidhche mus deach sinn a-null
Bha i drùidhteach a’ sileadh,
Bha mi fhèin ’nam laighe ’n cùil
’S thug mi sùil feadh nan gillean.

Ochan ì, ochan ì,
Tha sinn sgìth anns an ionad.
Ochan ì, ochan ì.

Cuid ’nan suidhe ’s cuid nan suain,
Cuid a’ bruadair ’s a’ bruidhinn,
Gu robh mhadainn gu bhith cruaidh –
‘Saoil am buannaich sin tilleadh?’

‘Cha dean biùgaileir le bheul
Ar pareudadh-ne tuilleadh;
Thèid ar dealachadh bho chèil’,’
Thuirt mi fhèin far mo bhilean.

Agus mar a thubhairt b’fhiòr,
Chaidh na ciadan a mhilleadh,
Chaidh an talamh as a rian
’S chaidh an iarmailt gu mireag.

Dhubh an àird an ear ’s an iar,
Is an sliabh gu robh crith ann,
Is chan fhaighinn m’anail sìos –
Aileadh cianail an tine.

Is cha chluinninn guth san àm
Aig commandair gar leigeil,
Bha na balaich ’s iad cho trang
Cumail thall na bha tighinn.

Bha gach fear a’ caogadh sùl,
’S e air cùlaibh a chruinneig,
A’ cur peileir glas a-null
Le uile dhùrachd a chridhe.

TRANSLATION to English

The night before we went over
The soaking rain poured down
I lay in a corner
And looked around the crowds

[refrain] Ochón í, We are tired of this place

Some sitting, some slumbering
Some dreaming and talking
Saying the morning would be hard
Do you think we can make it back?

Never again shall a bugler
Call on us to parade
We shall be separated one from another
I murmured to myself.

What I'd said proved true
Hundreds were undone
The earth erupted
And the skies went crazy.

The east and the west grew black
And the hillside shook in horror
And I couldn't draw breath -
The dreadful smell of the fire.

TRANSLATION (singable) to Irish Gaelic, by Risteard Mac Gabhann

An oíche sula ndeachaigh muid sall
Bhí an bháisteach trom is fliuch;
Bhí mé féin i m' luí i gcluid,
D'amharc mé thart ar na stócaigh.

Cuid ina suí 's cuid ina suan
Cuid ag taibhreamh nó ag tuar
Go mbeadh an mhaidin seo crua
' Meas tú an dtiocfaimid slán?

Go deo arís ní ghairmfidh
Buabahallaí chun paráid muid
Scarfar óna chéile muid
A dúirt mé i m'intinn féin.

A's mar a dúradh a fíoradh
D'imigh na céadta chun a scriosta
Réabadh an talamh 'na míle píos
A's na speartha in aimhréidh

Dúchan gach áit thoir is thiar
'S crith an uafáis ar an sliabh
Baineadh an anáil díom
Le boladh uafar an loiscthe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Air an Somme sung by Julie Fowlis, who set the poem to music,
accompanied by Éamon Doorley · Zoë Conway · John Mc Intyre


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Air an Somme (Gaelic, WW1)
From: GUEST,Rory
Date: 02 Jul 21 - 01:17 AM

Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna (1887–1967) was a Scottish Gaelic Bard, North Uist stonemason, and veteran of the First World War. He was perhaps the best-known of the Gaelic poets of the First World War.

Donald MacDonald, known as Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna, was born in the township of Corùna in North Uist. Donald was named after the place where he was raised and the croft was probably renamed Coruna because Donald's great-grandfather served in the Battle of Coruna in Spain in 1809. Although he went to Carinish School, Donald never learned to write in Gaelic. There was poetry in the family and he began composing poetry and poetry at the age of 13.
It was his ‘love for the musket’ and the hunting on his native North Uist that prompted the seventeen year old Donald MacDonald to join the militia, and led to his early entry to the First World War. Many soldiers were not raw recruits, but men who had been in the special reserves, the militia, before the war. Donald enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders in France, which saw action at the Somme in the summer of 1916. He was wounded in the autumn, and returned to England for convalescence. For the rest of the war, no longer fit for infantry duties, he served in the West Riding Field Regiment. Throughout his time in the West Riding Field Regiment, despite regulations, Dòmhnall Ruadh proudly kept the Cameron badge on his cap.
He returned to his native Uist after the war, and worked for most of his life as a builder and stonemason, marrying Anne MacDonald in 1922 and raising two children. Life on the island was hard, and Dòmhnall Ruadh must have suffered the disillusionment of many returning servicemen, but his poetry always showed an innate sympathy with his fellow men.

Dòmhnall Ruadh’s war poems express the horror of the front-line soldier in the face of modern warfare. He chronicles with dismay the awful difference between stalking a stag with his gun and his dog, and warfare in the trenches, and how little he would have guessed that he would be wedded to his rifle until they fell together. Although the reality of war was very different from what his youthful enthusiasm, and experience in the militia prepared him for, his poetry retained dignity and pride, and sympathetic understanding for his comrades.

He is perhaps the best-known of the Gaelic language poets of the trenches, despite the fact that he did not himself write the poems down – they were transcribed before his death, and published in two editions, the second one bilingual, edited by Fred Macaulay, and published under the title Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna: orain is dain in 1995.

The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916. Nearly 20,000 British soldiers were killed on the first day alone. The soldiers used to say that the time when they were waiting to attack the enemy was more frightening than the fight itself.
In the poem the bard describes the night before this tragic battle as they rested in the trench and also at the beginning of the battle itself. It doesn't say much about feeling alone. That comes through the picture he gives us of what happened. The way he uses sound, and especially the chorus, adds a lot to this. That is the strength of his poetry.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Air an Somme (Gaelic, WW1)
From: Felipa
Date: 02 Jul 21 - 07:34 AM

part of the above info. kindly posted by Rory can be found at https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poet/domhnall-ruadh-choruna/ but I don't know what is the original source of the article (Scottish Poetry Library doesn't give any credit either, as far as I can see. Perhaps from a book on Gaelic literature?

two verses from "Dhan Ghàidhlig" by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna are posted at
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=56849#934978 , message dated 16 Apri 2003. It will be worthwhile sharing some more of his poems which have been set to music, such as An Eala Bhàn and Eubhal, at Mudcat in the near future.

regarding the fact that the bard's poems were originally preserved orally before they were transcribed, "He briefly attended a district school at Carinish, but, due to the Education Acts, only English was taught in he schools. As a result, the bard would never learn to read or write in his native language." (my source: https://www.antiwarsongs.org/artista.php?id=12514&lang=en&rif=1, which is based on info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B2mhnall_Ruadh_Chor%C3%B9na )


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Air an Somme (Gaelic, WW1)
From: Felipa
Date: 02 Jul 21 - 08:20 PM

the chorus for the Irish translation is

Ochón í, ochón í,
Tá muid traochta san áit seo
Ochón í, ochón í.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Air an Somme (Gaelic, WW1)
From: Felipa
Date: 03 Jul 21 - 07:05 PM

The English language and Irish language translations given previously do not include the final two verses of the poem (which Julie Fowlis doesn't sing in the recording).

Is cha chluinninn guth san àm
Aig commandair gar leigeil,
Bha na balaich ’s iad cho trang
Cumail thall na bha tighinn.

Bha gach fear a’ caogadh sùl,
’S e air cùlaibh a chruinneig,
A’ cur peileir glas a-null
Le uile dhùrachd a chridhe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

English language translation by Ian MacDonald
published at https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/air-somme/

At the time I could hear
No commander urging us on;
The boys were fully occupied
Repelling the attacks upon us.

Each man was cocking an eye
Behind his sweetheart,*
Sending over a grey bullet
With his utmost will.

*i.e., his gun


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