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.
Translations of this Poem
Think of a flood
Translator: Jackie Kay
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.
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.