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Metadata for text 181
No. words in text100962
Title Metrical Reliques of “The Men” in the Highlands: or, Sacred Poetry of the North; by Mackay of Mudale (Anno 1700). Matheson, Sutherlandshire (1747). MacLauchlan, Abriachan (1760). Mrs Clark, Badenoch (1800). W. MacKenzie & D. MacRae, Inverness (1830). With Introduction and Brief Memoirs, in English (Baird na Gaidhealtachd Mu Thuath. Laoidhean agus Dana Spioradail, le Uilleam Mac-Choinnich, Lachlann Mac-Lachlann, Bean Torra-Dhamh, Iain Mac-Aoidh, Domhnull Mac-Radh, agus Domhnull Mathanach. Maille ri Gearr-iomradh mu ’m Beatha agus mu ’n Cliu, ann m Beurla)
Author (Rose)
Editor Rose, Rev. John
Date Of Edition 1851
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher Printed by Mackintosh & co.
Place Published Inverness
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Various
Register Religion, Verse
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 15cm x 9cm
Short Title Metrical Reliques
Reference Details EUL, Celtic Library: LI G ROS (Held in Faclair office)
Number Of Pages xiv, 284
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This text is a collection of spiritual poetry by six religious poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A short memoir of each poet is given in English. The collection was compiled and edited by Rev. John Rose. In the Introduction, Rose notes that ‘The poetry of every country is usually a faithful transcript of the current sentiments and manners in the class among whom its gifted authors moved. Here we have, embalmed by the poetic art, reliques of the rich and scriptural theology of “The Men” of the Highlands’ (p. xi). ‘The Men’ was the term given to a distinct group of lay-preachers renowned for their evangelical style of preaching. The prayer and fellowship meetings that produced this group of men, were introduced to the mainland Highlands in the mid-seventeenth century, by Thomas Hogg, minister of Killearn. It was not until the early eighteenth century that they reached the Western Isles.
Contents This volume begins with a list of Contents which names the six authors and the titles of their poems in English. This is followed by two short articles in English, and a short list of errata. The page numbers given here are not always accurate. There follows a general Introduction (pp. i-xiv) to the subject and to the poets. Rose notes that ‘In the “fellowship” meetings of the Highlands, the humble poets of of [sic] the present volume were all leading men in their day’ (p. xii).

The main body of the text contains poetry by the following six authors: Wm. MacKenzie (pp. 5-84), Lachlan MacLauchlan (pp. 85-100), Mrs Clark (pp. 101-08), Mr Mackay (pp. 109-32), Donald MacRae (pp. 133-244), and Donald Matheson of Kildonan (pp. 245-84). There is a short introduction to each of the poets. The poems are given in Gaelic only and have Gaelic titles. Around eighty poems are included in total. Some poets have a large number of works in this volume, while others, such as Mrs Clark (Bean Torra-Dhamh) and Mr MacKay, have only a few. The poems by Mrs Clark (Bean Torra-Dhamh) and Donald Matheson have been dealt with in earlier texts (see Text 140 and Text 161), and the earlier texts should be used when citing from these poems.

There are occasional footnotes throughout the text, which explain aspects of the poems, or reference passages from the Bible. A number of the poems are translations from English, such as William MacKenzie’s Cuireadh an t-Shoisgeil (pp. 68-69). Four of MacKenzie’s poems are translations from the English of Rev. Ralph Erskine (pp. 70-83).

Other Authors
This volume also includes the poem Am Papa agus an t-Ath-leasachadh, attributed to Duncan Lothian, which was originally published in 1797 (see Text 163). Lothian’s name is not mentioned in this volume, and the poem is included in the chapter of poems by William MacKenzie. At the end of the section of poems by John Mackay, we find the poem An Acain (pp. 131-32). However, it appears that this poem was not written by Mackay, as under the title of this poem we find the phrase Le M——. It therefore seems that this volume contains poems by more authors than are listed on the title page. Editors should be aware that while the poems are presented in sections by author, poems by other authors would seem to have been included.
Sources No sources are given for the poems in this volume.
Language This section will deal with the language of the poems by William MacKenzie, John Mackay, Lachlann MacLauchlan, and Donald MacRae. The works of the other two poets were discussed in earlier texts (see above). The poems in this volume are all religious in nature and cover a range of topics. A number of the poems are on Biblical themes and a number look at aspects of Christian theology. Others offer advice on leading a good Christian life, telling of the benefits to be gained by it and the dangers that might otherwise be faced.

There are a number of elegies, such as William MacKenzie’s Cumha do Uilleam Mac-Aoidh (pp. 47-52), Cumha d’a Mhnaoi Fein (pp. 55-57) and Cumha do Sheonaid Friseal (pp. 59-61). Lachlann MacLauchlan’s Cumha Mhaighstir Eachainn Mhic Phail (pp. 89-96), begins ‘Ni sinn an cumha nach ceòl leinn, \ Ni sinn gul, a’s ni sinn caoineadh, \ Air son Sgir’ Ri-sholuis bhronach, \ Mar ni lionmhorachd d’ an eol i. \ Ach ’s e ’s aobhar do ar cumha, \ Ged a bhith’maid bronach, dubhach, \ Thricead ’s chaidh ar fagail subhach, \ ’S ceol na trombaid òir na siubhal’ (p. 89).

A number of the poems lament the state of the world, and even the poet’s own state. In Lachlann MacLauchlan’s Cor an t-Saoghail (pp. 96-98), we find ‘Tha ’n saoghal so corrach, \ Mar shamhla do ’n duilleag, \ ’N uair is leotha ’barrach, \ Cha dual dh’i gum fuirich i: \ ’N uair is airde ’n lidhe, \ Rithist ni i traoghadh; \ ’S ann mar sud a tha \ Do na thainig chum an t-saoghail’ (p. 96). In Donald MacRae’s An Canran (pp. 150-53), we find ‘Ged dhean mi canran air son m’ anradh, \ ’S mise gearr a dh’ iompa’, \ Ach ’s e nach b’ aill leam, gu mo naire, \ ’S ann mo lamh-s’ tha ’n diultadh. \ Tha mi, mo thruaigh’! mar fhairg’ a’ luasgan, \ Thuig a’s uaith’ na srùlach; \ ’N uair b’ aill leam ciùin tha tuinn aig brùchd, \ A’s mis’ gun iuil gu stiuradh’ (p. 150).

A number of the poems, particularly those by Donald MacRae, offer advice on how to lead a good Christian life. In MacRae’s Fear na Goraiche (pp. 145-50), we find ‘Cuir do smuaintean ann an aìreamh, \ ’S feuch gu ’m bi do raidean ciallach; \ Sguir dhe d’ amaideachd bhòrb dhana, \ ’S bidh do chùis ni ’s fearr na ’s fhiach thu’ (p. 146), and his Fhir Ud Thall (pp. 170-78) begins ‘’S e m’ roghainn fhìn a measg gach sgios, \ Gu ’n chreid thu mi nam dhánachd, \ An fhirinn sgriobht’ le ’n tharainn-s’ inns’, \ Gu ’n leig thu dh’i tighinn làmh riut’ (p. 170). In his Litir gu U—— F——. Ann an America (pp. 153-58), we find ‘’S e mo chomhairl’ dhuits’, Uilleam, \ Gu ’m fuirich thu stoilde, \ ’S gu ’n cleachda’ tu caithris, \ (’S e mo bharails’ gur coir dhuit,) \ Mu ’n dean mianna do bhroillich, \ Do thoinneadh gu doibheart, \ ’S gu ’n aom iad thu thairis \ Gu amaideach dhomhail’ (p. 154).

Some of the poems discuss theology and events from the Bible. This is particularly the case in John Mackay’s poems, such as Adhamh agus Eubha (pp. 120-23), An Tearnadh Miorbhuileach (pp. 10-15), and Ceannach na h-Ailghios (pp. 124-31). His Cairdeas na Trionaid (pp. 116-20) begins ‘Is di-chuimhneach tha sinn, \ Air cairdeas na Trionaid, \ A dh’ullaich dhuinne Slan’ghear, \ Gu’r tearnadh o phiantaibh; \ An trath a dh’ith Adhamh, \ ’M meas araidh nach d’ iarr e, \ Chaidh thilgeadh á Parras, \ ’S o’n fhabhair thug Dia dha’ (p. 116).

John Mackay also composed a number of poems to some of his countrymen and women who emigrated to America, e.g. Caoidh air son Chairdean a chaidh Iom-ruagadh as an Tir so a dh’ America (pp. 29-33) and Soraidh gu Gillean a chaidh as an Tir so do dh’ America (p. 65), where we find ‘Thoir an t-soraidh-s’ uam le durachd, \ Dh’ ionnsuidh Ghillean Chlach-na-cùdain, \ Chaidh a mach o thìr an dùthchais, \ A dh’ ionnsuidh dùthaich an Iar. \\ ’S e mo dhùrachd dhuibh bhi sabhailt, \ O gach trioblaid agus gabhadh, \ Siubhal iriosal gun ardan, \ ’S creideasach do chàch ’n ar gniomh’ (p. 65). Under this theme we can also include Donald MacRae’s Litir gu U—— F——. Ann an America (pp. 153-58) and his Gus an U—— F—— Cheudna (pp. 158-63).

There are also a few poems on more unusual themes, such as Smuideadh an Tombac air a Thionnda gu Seadh Spioradail, translated by William MacKenzie (pp. 79-80), which begins ‘Na ghearradh ’m Plannt so sios gu t-fhéum, \ Mar sin chaidh Plannt a chliù le béum; \ Chuir trocair uaith’, \ Air chrioch ni ’s uaìsl’; \ Smuanich féin mar so le cùram, \ ’N uair a smùideas tu tombac’ (p. 79), and Run Habacuic, by MacKenzie, which reads ‘Ged robh am fionan gun toradh, \ ’S an crann oladh gun bhlath air; \ Ged robh an stabull gun eachaibh, \ A’s a mhachair gun bharr oirr’; \ A’s ged a bhasaich na treudan, \ A’s gun spreidh bhi ’sa bhathaich; \ An Dia mo shlainte bidh m’ aoibhneas, \ A’s na chaoimhneas bidh m’ earlaid’ (p. 66). Lachlan MacLauchlan’s An Samhladh (p. 98) reads ‘’S coslach mi ri botul, \ Na ri tocsaid bhiodh dearr làn— \ Cha ’n ’eil fhios aig fear fianuis, \ Nach e fion th’ anns a chlar ud; \ Ach buail breab air na tuinnseadh, \ Ann am puinc nach bi araidh, \ ’S ma ’s a mil th’ ann, na puinsion, \ Chi thu taosgal air clar dh’i’ (p. 98).

Also of interest are the large number of English borrowings in MacLauchlan’s Cumha Mhaighstir Eachainn Mhic Phail (pp. 89-96). Examples include Theirig làmpachan a soluis (p. 90), Gu bhi labhairt ann an séusan (p. 92), Rinn a dhreasaigeadh gu h-aluinn (pp. 93), Anns na h-uile pairt dheth oifig (p. 93), and ’N aghaidh Patronachd ’n fhòireigin (p. 95).
Orthography The orthography is typical of the mid-nineteenth century with little to differentiate the earlier from the later poems included in this anthology. Of interest is the editor’s use of dh’i rather than dhi, e.g. Mu’n cuairt dh’i ’n glas a’ fàs (p. 111), which perhaps echoes an earlier generation’s attempt to represent the pronominal element in Gaelic prepositional pronouns.
Edition First edition. The poems in this volume may also appear in earlier editions. Editors should use the earliest versions of each poem where possible. See Text 140 for information about Mrs Clark (Bean Torra-Dhamh), Text 161 for information about Donald Matheson, and Text 163 for information about Duncan Lothian.
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