Rudan a nì uisge

Rudan a nì uisge
Smaoinich air tuil, smaoinich air tobar,
smaoinich air muileann, ’s i ’g obair ’s ag obair;

smaoinich air d’ fhuil ’s i falbh ’s a’ falbh
trod chuislean uile a dh’oidhche ’s a là;

smaoinich air craobhan ’s feur ’s air lusan,
chan fhàsadh iad idir gun frasan is fliuichead;

smaoinich ort fhèin a-muigh anns a’ pholl—
dè ghlanas an salchar aig a’ cheann thall?

Smaoinich air mamaidh a’ dèanamh do dhìnneir,
gun uisge sa phana cha bhruicheadh nì dhi;

smaoinich air uisge a thig às an adhar,
cò às tha e tighinn agus càit am falbh e?

Smaoinich air cungadh nuair bhios sinn tinn,
cò ann a leaghas na mathasan grinn?

Smaoinich air frasair no bath mòr teth,
le splis is le splais is deatach tighinn dheth.

’S tha ceud rud eile a nì sinn le uisge,
nach smaoinich thu orra is tòisich air liosta.
Maoilios Caimbeul

from Dreuchd An Fhigheadair / The Weaver's Task: a Gaelic Sampler, edited and introduced by Crìsdean MhicGhilleBhàin/Christopher Whyte (Scottish Poetry Library, 2007)

Reproduced by permission of the author.
Think of a flood
Think of a flood, think of a well
Working, working, think of a mill.

Think of your blood, moving, moving
Through every artery of night and morning

Think how the grass, trees and plants know
They need the cloud-bursts of rain to grow

Think of yourself out in the mud and the mire
Think what cleans your hands, feet, hair.

Think of mammy making your dinner
Without water boiling in the pan for her

Think of water that comes from air,
How it came from there and goes, where?

Think of medicine when we are ill
How much water we need to get well

Think of a hot bath or a shower
The splish- splash pleasure, the hot vapours.

So many other things we may need water for.
Make your own list for your son or your daughter.
translated by Jackie Kay
Maoilios Caimbeul

Maoilios Caimbeul/Myles Campbell is a poet, novelist and teacher, working mainly in Scottish Gaelic and living on Skye. 

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Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has published five collections of poetry for adults (The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book Award) and several for children. She was awarded an MBE in 2006.

Read more about this poet
About Rudan a nì uisge

This poem and the translation or ‘response’ were published in Dreuchd An Fhigheadair / The Weaver’s Task: a Gaelic Sampler, edited by Christopher Whyte, and published by the Scottish Poetry Library in 2007. Seven Scottish poets with no knowledge of Gaelic were offered literal versions of contemporary Gaelic poems. Their responses were published alongside the Gaelic  originals in the book, and can also be read on the website collected under the tag: The Weaver’s Task.