It’s quite an undertaking to start loving somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment right at the start where you have to jump across an abyss: if you think about it you don’t do it.
“I am slowly learning that some people are not good for me, no matter how much I love them. I deserve someone who is gentle and kind, because my soul is getting tired. Realizing that I deserve something good is one of the first steps.”
On 24 November 1996 Sorley MacLean, the noted Scottish poet, died.
MacLean is widely regarded as the greatest Gaelic poet of the Twentieth Century, and he is to be credited with giving a new literary standing to a language which at times seemed close to extinction. Works include Dain do Eimhir agus Dain Eile (Poems to Eimhir and Other Poems), a selection of mainly love poems written after MacLean returned from service in North Africa in 1943, where he was wounded three times.
It’s quite fitting to post his poignant poem Autumn day, both Gaelic and English translations are below.
’S mi air an t-slios ud latha foghair, na sligean a’ sianail mum chluasan agus sianar marbh ri mo ghualainn, rag-mharbh – is reòthta mur b’ e ’n teas – mar gum b’ ann a’ fuireach ri fios. Nuair thàinig an sgriach a-mach às a’ ghrèin, à buille ’s bualadh do-fhaicsinn, leum an lasair agus streap an ceathach agus bhàrc e gacha rathad: dalladh nan sùl, sgoltadh claistinn. ’S ’na dhèidh, an sianar marbh, fad an latha; am measg nan sligean san t-srannraich anns a’ mhadainn, agus a-rithist aig meadhan-latha agus san fheasgar. Ris a’ ghrèin ’s i cho coma, cho geal cràiteach; air a’ ghainmhich ’s i cho tìorail socair bàidheil; agus fo reultan Afraga, ’s iad leugach àlainn. Ghabh aon Taghadh iadsan ’s cha d’ ghabh e mise, gun fhaighneachd dhinn cò b’ fheàrr no bu mhiosa: ar leam, cho diabhlaidh coma ris na sligean.
Sianar marbh rim o ghualainn latha foghair.
An Autumn Day.
On that slope on an autumn day, the shells soughing about my ears and six dead men at my shoulder, dead and stiff – and frozen were it not for the heat – as if they were waiting for a message. When the screech came out of the sun, out of an invisible throbbing, the flame leaped and the smoke climbed and surged every way: blinding of eyes, splitting of hearing. And after it, the six men dead the whole day; among the shells snoring in the morning, and again at midday and in the evening. In the sun, which was so indifferent, so white and painful; on the sand which was so comfortable, easy and kindly; and under the stars of Africa, jewelled and beautiful. One Election took them and did not take me, without asking us which was better or worse: it seemed as devilishly indifferent as the shells. Six men dead at my shoulder.