Dh’innis do mhàthair dhomh an-diugh,
gu bheil thu air mo leabhar
a ghoid bhon sgealp,
gus a thoirt a-steach do thèarmann teanta
is a shealltainn do do bheathaichean lìonta.
Thug siud adhbhar dhomh sgrìobhadh as ùr.
Ged nach leugh thu na faclan ann,
tuigidh tu fhathast fhaireachdainn,
a chòmhdach cèireach,
meallach nad làimh,
‘s tu – tron ghnìomh sin – a’ coinneachadh
gach feart do chruinne.
Bheir siud adhbhar dhuinn ar faclan a thoirt air aghaidh.
Is dòcha gur gintinneachd,
thug dhut do spionnadh.
‘S mi a chunnaic sin iomadh uair,
a’ dìreadh an àrd-ùrlair,
gus an coisneadh i a bonn,
A sàilean àrda ceum o chèile,
agus tu suaineadh innte
fhad ‘s a bha i ri seinn.
Bu siud do chiad òran càraid.
Is sin an seòrsa leasain tha ri
leughadh eadar mo dhuilleagan,
a thuigeas tu, mar is còir,
nuair a thig do là is, mar sin,
‘s mo dhòchas gum bi e ann dhut,
nuair as dheth-san nì thu feum.
B’ e siud adhbhar dha a sgrìobhadh.
Dèan èirigh slàn
is nach suidheamaid còmhla
gus an innis mi na thachair
gus an spreagadh:
na dàin a lìonadh an leabhar nad làimh
agus an fheadhainn a nì ùrachadh.
‘S tu bhios am measg ciad fheadhna
a gheibh e, ùr on chlò,
is mar sin, chan e a-mhàin
mo sgeulachd fhèin
ga sgaoileadh thar nan duilleagan,
ach criomagan eachdraidh na coimhearsnachd
dheth am bi tu, rè ùine, nad phàirt.
An àrainneachd a tha sinn air dealbhadh,
gus do chaidreabh is do dhìon.
Translations of this Poem
The Book II
You mother told me today,
that you had snuck
my book from the shelf,
to take it into your tented sanctuary
and show it to your stuffed animals.
That caused me to write once more.
Though you don’t yet pronounce its words,
you understand already it by touch,
the cover, waxy
supple in your hands,
as you, by that act, encounter
every aspect of your world.
That is reason enough to bring forth our words.
Maybe it was genetics
that gave you your verve.
I have seen it many times
in your mother,
ascending the stage,
as she went after her medal.
Her high heels, a foot apart,
and you, asleep inside her
as she sang.
That was your first duet.
It is this, the sort of lesson,
you can read between my pages,
which you’ll understand, as is right,
when your own day dawns, and so
I hope that it might find you,
should you ever need it.
That is the reason it was written.
Rise up safe and well
and we’ll sit together
so I can tell you what happened
to inspire them:
the poems that fill the volume in your hand
and the others that will renew them.
You will be amongst the first
that will receive it, newly reprinted,
and so, this isn’t
my story alone,
spread out across the pages
but fragments of our community’s history,
of which you, in time, will be a part.
The environment we have, ourselves, designed,
to enfold and protect you.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2020. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The Gaelic editor in 2019 was Ceitidh Campbell.
This was first published as a visual poem, where you don’t need to understand the words to understand the meaning – the symbolism of the poem realised in its form. The contrast of the simplicity of a child with a book they can’t read but the significance of their unconscious choice is palpable. The idea of use it or lose it, the tangible physical use of Gaelic is embodied in the touching of the book and absorbing the words within it. The precarious but hopeful future of the language and the connection of nature and nurture abound through the verses. Adhbhar used in the single line refrains and reminds us that everything happens for a reason not merely the literal reasons behind the composition of the work. The repetitive imagery of safety, warmth, growth and protection give the poem a personal quality whilst the godfather-like role the poet presents himself in echoes the role and duty we all have as Gaels to pass on our language.
Chaidh ‘An Leabhar II’ a choimiseanadh le Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba airson sreath a thug sùil air ais air na h-ochdadan air saoghal na Gàidhlig. Bha e na phàirt de phròiseact ioma-mheadhanach aig Marcas – COR – a thug a-steach bàrdachd is òrain ùra, film agus beul-aithris air a thrusadh bho choimhearsnachdan Ghàidhlig agus LGBTC+. Nì an dàn luaidh air toiseach tòiseachaidh le litreachas aig clann òg agus an dòigh a tha sgrìobhadh, leughadh, bàrdachd is òrain cudromach do mhion-chànanan a thoirt air aghaidh. Is toil le Marcas dàimh a chruthachadh eadar bàrdachd, guthan, ceòl agus film is mar sin tha film-dhàin gu mòr nam phàirt den t-saothair aige.
‘An Leabhar II’ (‘The Book II’) was commissioned by the National Library of Scotland for their series looking back on the 1980s in the Gaelic world. It was part of Marcas’ multimedia Project – COR – which indluded new poetry and song, film and testimony gathered from the Gaelic and LGBTQ+ communities. The poem celebrates children’s first encouters with literacy and literature and the way that swriting, reading, poetry and song are intrinsic to the transmission of minoritised languages. Marcas enjoys the relationship between poetry, voice, music and film and as such film-poetry is a key element of his creative output.