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Metadata for text 139
No. words in text641
Title Poems in English, Scotch, and Gaelic, on Various Subjects
Author Walker, John
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1817
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Printed by Young, Gallie, & Co.
Place Published Glasgow
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Loch Lomond
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17.3cm x 11cm
Short Title Poems
Reference Details EUL, Sp. Coll.: S.B. .82179Wal
Number Of Pages viii, 145
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator An engraving entitled ‘John Walker’ serves as frontispiece to this volume; it is unsigned and anonym
Social Context It is stated in the Preface that Walker’s father ‘occupied a small farm near the village of Luss; and having destined his Son to common country labour, he gave him no more than the scanty education which appeared suitable to his humble prospects. And as the early instruction which our Author received was extremely limited, so he has ever since been constantly engaged in a laborious occupation, which, while it gave him little opportunity, certainly held out no inducement for the improvement of his mind. If, therefore, these Poems indicate a knowledge superior to the Poet’s station, it has been entirely the fruit of his own assiduity and taste for reading.’

The writer continues: ‘It may not be uninteresting to the reader of this book, to know that the Author is now a man above seventy years of age, and has passed the whole of his life on a farm called the Hill of Camstraddan, from which he has not been absent for more than a few weeks during the last forty years. To use his own words, “I live on the same floor on which my ancestors have trod from time immemorial, and within the same walls, and beneath the same reeky roof under which my Father lived; and I sleep on the same bed on which he died. I have lived and do live in the midst of a group of the best neighbours, who laugh at my eccentricities, and I laugh at them in return.” Here he has continued to experience the same kindness extended to his forefathers by the Lairds of Camstraddan, towards whom he entertains in return an almost clannish respect’ (pp. ii-iii).

The Preface also mentions ‘another family in his immediate neighbourhood, (universally known for their benevolence and hospitality,) as well as for their uniform kindness to him, as for their friendly attention to his interest in the instance of the present publication’ (p. iii). The family is not named, but it may be inferred that they assisted Walker in the publication of this volume, or at least persuaded him to pursue the idea of publication. They may well be represented in the list of subscribers at the end of this volume. As for his poems, we are told that they were written ‘at various intervals during the last thirty years, and none of them with a view to the press’ (p. iii).

Given that Walker was over 70 in 1817, he must have been born between 1738 and 1747. Although nothing more is known about Walker’s life, it is likely that some members of his family are among the Walkers named as subscribers to this volume (pp. 145-46).
Contents After the Preface (pp. i-iii) and Contents (pp. v-viii) Walker’s poems are printed in three sections, as follows:

Poems (pp. 1-50): comprising 20 poems in English, including ‘Lines inscribed on the Tomb-stone, of a child of the Author in Luss Church-yard’ (p. 6), which is followed by ‘Gaelic Inscription on the same’ (p. 7), and an English translation of the Gaelic inscription.

Poems in the Scotch Dialect (pp. 51-119): comprising a number of poems in Scots.

Gaelic (pp. 120-24): containing two poems in Gaelic, Do Dhuin Uasal Do’n Chleir, air dha Posadh (pp. 120-21) and Oran (pp. 122-24).

At the end of this volume is a short section entitled Notes (pp. 125-26). This section contains three notes on characters and events referred to in the poems, followed by two corrections. None of these have any relevance to the Gaelic items. There follows an extensive list of subscribers to the volume (pp. 127-46).

The Gaelic Poems
Since there are only three Gaelic items in this volume, and since they are all fairly short, they are given here in full. See below for some points of linguistic interest.

The Gaelic inscription on his child’s tomb-stone (p. 7) reads:

Ge domhain dorch an leaba ’nuaigh
Na bitheadh gruaim air creidmheach bĕo;
Tha ’n lá à teachd an toirear buaidh,
’Scha mhaslaich truailleachd sinn nis mò.

Do Dhuin Uasal Do’n Chleir, air dha Posadh (pp. 120-21) reads:

Failte dhuitse fhir na gruaige,
Thug thu buaidh s’ is maith leam fhaicinn;
’N òigh mhaiseach a bhi ri’d ghualinn,
Nuair a ghluaiseas tu gu faiche.

Na bi borb is na bi reasgach,
Gruamach, teùmach, sradach;
Gu neo-chothromach a’d bheùsaibh,
Udluidh, leumnach, spadach.

Bi gu suairce ris an òg-bhean,
’S maith a coir air na tha agad;
Sliochd an t-Saoir i o Chlann Domhnuill,
A chaill an ordag treis o’n chladach:

’S iomadh fear dhiu sud rinn mòr-bheairt,
’Nuair bha’n còir ga toirt a dh’aindeoin;
’S gar am bheil annamsa ach lòpan,
’S ann do'n t’seorsa ud bha mo shean a’ir.

Bithidh suil mhothaich agam fein ort,
Ciod an ceùm am bi thu gluasad;
Bithidh mi faire’s bithidh mi’geisdeachd,
Air eagal gu’m bi thu’n tuasaid.

Ach ma bhitheas tu caoimhneil cairdeil,
Gheibh thu gradh airson do shaoithreach;
’S bheir mi fein duit uainein oisge,
’Nuair a chròdhas mi na caoirich.

Oran (pp. 122-24) reads:

’S mi’m shuidhe ann am chrùban,
Ann am bothan udluidh fuar;
Gu’n duine ann a ni sugradh rium,
No dh’òlas drù a cuaich.
Chaidh Iain bàn air farsan uam,
’S cha’n fhan e’n dail mo sgeith;
’Sco cairdeach Gille-Padruig dhomh,
Gu’n dh’fhag e mi leam fein.

Bithidh bruic, is cait, is mairteanan;
A garraich feadh nan tòm;
’S bha uair a chluinnte uruiscean,
Ri buirich san Eas-chrom.
Gu’n fhasgadh no gun fhardach aca,
Ach scarnach, no bun craoibh;
Iad fein sa bhean ’s na paistean aca,
’S iad lom-ruisgte ris a ghaoith.

Gur tuirseach sgith, ’s gur camparach,
Bhi’n ceann na craige ruaidh;
Gun òl gun cheòl gun channtaireachd,
Ach srann an uilt am chluais.
Be caibe is crann a b’annsa leam,
’Sann annta bha gach buaidh;
Mo chul ri ceird na drànndanaich,
Be’n t’aimhleas bha ri druaip.

Thoir soruidh sios gu Mairi uam,
Bean chairdeil an fhuilt reidh;
Is innis dhi mar chairich iad mi,
A’m fardaich bhun na sgeith.
’Si nach faiceadh cas orm,
’Nuair dh’fhagadh cach mi’m theinn;
Gheibhinn bruanag, ’s cruachdan càise uaip,
’N am tearnadh leis a bheinn.
Sources
Language
Orthography Walker’s Gaelic verse is fluent and expressive, and provides us with precious glimpses of Loch Lomond-side Gaelic. Of interest are the pronunciations reasgach with /e:/ and uruiscean with /u:/, and the elision of final /ǝ/ in craoibh and uaip. Also noteworthy are the terms uainein oisge, drù, mairteanan, lòpan, sùil mhothaich, scarnach and bruanag.

The orthography is typical of the early to mid-nineteenth century, with occasional use of accents to mark long or lengthened vowels.
Edition First edition.
Other Sources
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