We feature work by poet Catrìona NicGumaraid to mark National Poetry Day 2012.
'Poems for Sorley' cover
image by Cailean MacLean.
Catrìona NicGumaraid has been writing poetry in Gaelic and English since the 1970s.
Born into a crofting family in Skye in 1947, Catrìona studied Celtic and Modern Studies at the University of Glasgow. Catrìona was the first writer-in-residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye's Gaelic college, and has written scripts for radio and television.
Catrìona's first poetry collection was 'A'Choille Chiar' (Clo-Beag, 1974), which also contained poems by her sister, Morag. 'Rè na h-Oidhche' / 'The length of the night' (Canongate, 1994) is the definitive collection of Catrìona's poetry. In the introduction to 'Rè na h-Oidhche' Sorely MacLean praised the 'striking personality' of Catrìona's poetry and the poignancy and humour found in her work.
You can read more about Catrìona on the BBC's Làrach nam Bàrd Gaelic language website.
The poem here is taken from 'Dàin do Shomhairle' / 'Poems for Sorley', published by Urras Shomhairle / the Sorley MacLean Trust in association with the Scottish Poetry Library. This collection of poetry was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Sorely MacLean. The pamphlet contains poems by Gaelic and non-Gaelic speaking poets.
To read another poem from this collection, visit Robert Crawford's page.
Marbhrann do Shomhairle MhicGill-Eain
Chan urrainn dhomh lideadh a sgrìobhadh
bhon dh'fhalbh thu bhuain fhir chòir, fhir chòir
ach tha do bhriathran a' bualadh orm
mar gu robh thu beò, fhir bhlath, fhir bhlath
's tusa dh'fhosgail iuchair mo bhàrdachd
's a bhrosnaich càinnt mo bheòil,
chaidh bìdeag dhìomsa cuide riut
air latha grìseach gad chàradh fon fhoid.
An Elegy for Sorley MacLean
I cannot write one syllable
since you went from us, kind one, kind one
but your words strike me
as if you were alive, warm one, warm one.
It was you opened the key to my poetry
and encouraged the words of my mouth.
A little bit of me went with you
on a shivery day, planting you under the soil.