Nuair a bha sinn òg bhiodh uisge ann,
is sinn a’ bualadh chlachan air na pòlaichean
telegraf gun stad.
Bhiodh aon each ’na sheasamh ri balla
’s am bùrn a’ drùdhadh air
’s a chraiceann sleamhainn leis a’ bhùrn ghlas.
Nuair a bha sinn òg bhiodh sinn a’ cluich
cèise-ball ’s a’ ghealach anns an adhar
mar chèise-ball de òr.
Nuair a bha sinn òg bhiodh cailleachan
ag ràdh ruinn: ‘Na dèan sud, dèan seo’,
air eagal na caillich-oidhche.
Nuair a bha sinn òg bha an t-adhar falamh
is dealbhan anns an leabhar, is talamh
uaine, fad às.
Nuair a bha sinn òg, bha breugan ann,
nuair a tha sinn aost’, ’s e ’bhreug a th’ ann
gu robh an òig’ gun smal.
Translations of this Poem
When we were young
Translator: Robert Crawford
When we were young it rained and rained and rained.
We flung white stones at the telegraph poles
Again and again and again.
A horse stood snorting against a wall,
Jet-black back going grey or green with the rain
Sluicing down its flanks and shanks.
When we were young we went on and on
Taking our goal-kicks under that moon,
A sky-high football of gold.
When we were young old women told us
And told us, scared of the night witch, ‘Son,
‘Not that way. This way instead.’
When we were young there were clear horizons.
Pictures waited unseen in our books,
A green land, far, far away.
When we were young the lies began
And now we are old there is still the old lie:
When we were young we were spotless.
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.