Neul a’ snàmh air an speur,
duilleach eadar è ’s mo shùil;
ùr bàrr-uaine gruag a’ bheithe,
leug nan leitir cas mun Lùib.
Oiteag ’tighinn bhàrr an tuim,
a’ toirt fuinn às do dhos,
cruit na gaoithe do bhàrr teudach,
cuisleannan nan geug ri port.
Àilleagan nan glac seo shìos,
sìthbhrugh do na h-eòin do dhlùths,
thu gan tàladh às gach àirde,
iad a’ teàrnadh ort le sunnd.
Ceileireadh ’s e binn binn,
seirm is seinn air a’ chnoc,
nuair a chromas na h-eòin Shamhraidh
air do mheanglain ’s mil ’nan gob.
Is fheàrr na ’n ceòl t’ fhaicinn fhèin
air bhogadan rèidh fon chnap,
seang bàrr-snìomhain amlach ùrar,
is dealt ’na chùirnein air gach slait.
Translations of this Poem
To a Bonny Birch Tree
Translator: Tracey Herd
A cloud is floating on the sky
But my eye is lush with green:
Leafage fresh, a visual symphony,
The bonny birch, the hillock’s crown.
A breeze is plucking at the mound,
Sweet sounds rising from your core,
The wind, angelic in each part,
A harp is playing its simple score.
You are the jewel of these hollows.
See swallows light upon the fairy ring.
You have conjured them from air,
From far and near. With joy they sing.
They warble summer melodies,
They merely want to share their joy,
Your branches tremble with their notes.
Their throats are thick with honey.
Lovelier than music is the dance,
Stark elegance of tree and stone.
Your lithe limbs soaked with dew,
The dew like diamonds, tiny suns.
About this poem
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.