Chì mi thu – stoim gàire air beul lapach,
thu leth-chadalach rim thaobh, cuibhrig a’ ghaoil gar còmhdach,
làmhan leisg a’ slìobadh aodann – cagarsaich dhìomhair,
’s mi tighinn thugad a ghràidh, deònach, miannach.
Le briseadh latha, priobadh sùla.
Fann-sholas dhìot a’ seargadh, ’s a’ teicheadh à sealladh,
do chluasag fhuar, fhalamh
a’ dùsgadh suain gu rosg-fhradharc
Chì mi thu – cluasan air ghleus ri guth sunndach, sùgach,
na ceumannan ath-shaothrachail a’ dèanamh air an dachaigh,
thu a’ tighinn rium-sa cho math ’s a dh’ iarainn,
plosgadh cridhe, fann le gràdh, a’ ruighinn doras gealltanach
’s a’ fosgladh ri briseadh-dùil.
Fann-sholas dhìot, às fàire, neo-làthaireach,
starsaich neulach, làrach bhàn
gun ghuth, gun bhròig, gun sgeul
Chì sinn’ thu – fillte eadar fad’ às is faisg,
cho faisg ’s nach eil thu air ar fàgail,
cho fad às ’s gu bheil sinn’ air do chall,
tuigs’ a’ soilleireachadh ionndrainn cràiteach,
ùr-ghorm gach madainn, sìor-uisg’ air talamh drùidhte.
Sitig fhuar a’ bhròin, eòlas searbh a’ bhàis,
Fann-sholas dhìot an-còmhnaidh fa-near,
gach smior a’ lèirsinn an àma ri teachd,
às d’ aonais.
Translations of this Poem
I see you – the faint glimpse of a smile around languid mouth,
dozing by my side, the coverlet of love around us,
lazy hands stroking faces – whispering secrets,
me coming to you my love – willing, desirous.
With the dawning of day, in the twinkling of the eye,
a dim light of you, withering and receding out of sight,
your pillow cold, empty,
awakening slumber to clear vision.
I see you – hearing attuned to that cheerful, merry voice,
diligent footsteps making for home,
you suiting me as well as I could wish,
heartbeat, faint with love, reaching for the door with anticipation
and opening to loss of hope.
A dim glimpse of you, distant, not present,
the threshold gloomy, vacant
without voice, or shoe or news.
We see you – entwined between the near and far,
so near that you have not left us,
so far away that we have lost you,
understanding illuminating bitter longing,
freshly green each morning, ceaseless rain on drenched soil,
the cold dunghill of sorrow, bitter grasp of death.
A faint glimpse of you – always noted,
the best part of us perceiving the future
About this poem
This poem was chosen by Ceitidh Campbell as part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s ‘Champions’ project, a guest curatorship programme to help extend our national reach.
Campbell says, ‘The time between sleep and wakefulness has always been considered a liminal time when the last vestiges of our dreams seep into our reality. The imprints of those we love who have left us are all around us. I immediately could see my grandfather in this piece and the emotion radiates from the lines. This poem stays with you like the echoes and memories it invokes. Gus am bris an latha.’
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2020. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 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.
Whether in the original or in translation, the powerful raw emotion from each line resonates and lingers in the titular dim light of the reader’s memory. The imagery of the space between asleep and awake; when the vision of those that are gone is strongest before the realisation and reality of their loss hits, is relatable and real. Repetition at the beginning of each stanza emphasises the indelible marks and memories left in this world by those who have left us. I found echoes of Derick Thompson’s Cisteachan-Laighe at the end of the second stanza and in the application of affective memory and pathetic fallacy. The contrasting imagery and end rhyme in the final stanza help bring the poem to its beautiful conclusion and non-conclusion – those who are gone are still with us. The lines reflected my own feelings about my late grandfather and gives all those who have the privilege of reading this work, a way of expressing loss and love.
In weaving the imagery and lyrics, I wanted to encapsulate and capture that weightless, blurry transition between sleeping and waking, where escapism and reality blend into an unfocused, indistinguishable haze. It was written, bathed in pain, for a dear friend whose husband died unexpectedly during Lockdown, 2020. The poem was created to enable the reader to identify with that clarity familiar to us all – the harsh reality of truth’s cold, hard door-knock, trespassing on our sweet dreams, reminding us that ‘this is for real‘ – and yet, the dreams remain so real within their own moments of time, it is as if our loved ones have never left us. The transition to wakefulness brings fresh pain and anguish as blissful dreams of togetherness and anticipation fade, giving way to heart-break, renewed sorrow and that sure knowledge that our loved one is no longer by our side.