’S ann ri ur seanair Dòmhnall Buachaille
a bha sibh a’ bruidhinn a-raoir
thuirt sibh rium.
Ann an aisling no an soillearachadh seòmair choimhich,
chomhairlich e dhuibh
eadar ceathramhan a chuid òran
gur ann car mar seo a bha i,
eadar beatha is bàs
air uairean dorcha, ro dhorcha
aig àmannan eile gun dad ga dìth.
Bha sibh mar pheata dha
dh’inns e dhuibh
fear a dh’ fhalbhadh le cuman cùramach gu tobar ghinealach
fear a dh’fhadadh blàths à cruaich a chridhe
fear a dh’ èigheadh prìsean sa Bheurla air creutairean nach gabhadh creic
fear a chunntaiseadh na fàrdain chumhanga nam ficheadan:
notaichean mòra geala an Rìgh aig a’ bhodach fo leab’ a làithean.
Ach cha tug e freagairt idir
air coltas chùisean
an tùs an fhuarain?
an sùil nan lasraichean?
air an fhèill mhòir mhaireannaich
gun dròbhair no beathach no airgead no eagal?
Agus is math sin ’s dòcha,
gu h-àraid, tha grèim ur làimhe deise ag agairt,
seach nach do dh’fhaighneachd sibh dheth.
Translations of this Poem
In the Tranquillity of Delirium
You were conversing last night
with your grandfather Dòmhnall Buachaille
you said to me.
In a dream or in the clarity of an alien ward,
he advised you
between verses of his songs
that it was a bit like this,
between life and death
sometimes dark, too dark
at other moments without imperfection.
You were like a pet for him
he told you,
someone who could run with a careful pail to the well of generations
someone who could kindle warmth from the stack of his heart
someone who could call prices in English for creatures that couldn’t be sold
someone who’d count tight farthings into piles:
the King’s large white notes under the old man’s bed of days.
But he didn’t give any kind of answer
about the look of things
at the source of the fount?
in the eye of the blaze?
at the great everlasting fayre
without drover or beast or money or fear?
And maybe that’s just as well,
especially, the grip in your right hand contends,
since you didn’t ask him.
About this poem
Thòisich mi an dàn seo air an trèan dhachaigh às A’ Bhealach an dèidh dhomh tadhal air m’ athair nach maireann is e air stròc a ghabhail / I started this poem on the train home from Balloch, having just visited my late Dad in hospital. He’d recently suffered a stroke.
Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir/ Martin MacIntyre
This poem is included in the anthology Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2014). The anthology was edited by Dr Lesley Morrison, GP; Dr John Gillies, GP and Chair, Royal College of GPs in Scotland, Rev Ali Newell, and Lilias Fraser. A copy was given to all graduating doctors in Scotland in 2014. We are very grateful for the individual donations which funded the cost of this anthology, and to the Deans of the Scottish medical schools who made it possible to give the books to their graduating students.