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Metadata for text 181
No. words in text89834
Title (1) Metrical Reliques of ‘The Men’ in the Highlands: or, Sacred Poetry of the North …With Introduction and Brief Memoirs, in English. (2) Baird na Gaidhealtachd Mu Thuath. Laoidhean agus Dana Spioradail … Maille ri Gearr-iomradh mu ’m Beatha agus mu ’n Cliu, ann am Beurla.
Author N/A (Edited work)
Editor Rose, Rev. John
Date Of Edition 1851
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher 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 (1-4, i-xiv, 5-284)
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 proposes 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 Hog(g), 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 makes the following claim: ‘In the “fellowship” meetings of the Highlands, the humble poets of … 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 John McKay (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 McKay, have only a few. The poems by Mrs Clark (Bean Torra-Dhamh) and Donald Matheson have been dealt with in Text 140 (published in 1902) and Text 161 (published in 1825) respectively. These texts should be consulted beside the present text with the general presumption that the earliest available text should be used for citation purposes, i.e. Text 161 for Matheson and the present text for the two poems by Mrs Clark which it contains. when citing from these poems.

There are occasional footnotes throughout the text, which explain aspects of the poems, or give biblical references. A number of the poems are translations from English, including 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).

This volume also contains some poems by other authors, including 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 amongst the poems credited to William MacKenzie. At the end of the section of poems by John McKay, is printed the poem entitled An Acain (pp. 131-32). It is not listed in the Contents, and it is credited as follows: Le M——. It is possible that further research could identify more works by authors who are not identified in the Contents, and editors should be aware of this possibility when excerpting from this volume.
Sources No sources are given for the poems in this volume.
Language This section covers only the language of the poems by William MacKenzie, John McKay, Lachlan McLauchlan, and Donald MacRae. The language of the two remaining poets is discussed in the appropriate sections of Text 140 and Text 161. The poems in this volume are all religious in nature and cover a variety of aspects of their subject. 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, listing the benefits to be gained by it and the dangers that might otherwise be faced.

There are a number of elegies, including 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 deal with the state of the world, and some with the poet’s own condition. Lachlan MacLauchlan’s Cor an t-Saoghail (pp. 96-98) contains this assessment: ‘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 An Cànran (pp. 150-53) Donald MacRae complains: ‘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 Fear na Gòraiche (pp. 145-50) he advises as follows: ‘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). His Fhir Ud Thall (pp. 170-78) begins: ‘’S e m’ roghainn fhìn a measg gach sgios, \ Gu ’n chreid thu mi nam dhànachd, \ 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) he gives this advice: ‘’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 touch on theology and events from the Bible. This is particularly the case in John McKay’s poems, e.g. in 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 on the subject of emigration 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). The latter poem begins: ‘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 heading we can also include Donald MacRae’s Litir gu U—— F——. Ann an America (pp. 153-58) and the same poet’s 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 contains a striking image: ‘’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).

A number of interesting loanwords from English occur in McLauchlan’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 characteristic of the mid-nineteenth century with little to differentiate the earlier from the later poems included in this anthology. Amongst noteworthy features is the editor’s habit of writing prepositional pronouns with an apostrophe separating the ‘prepositional’ from the ‘pronominal’ part as in dh’i for 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. Some of the poems in this volume had appeared in earlier volumes, as indicated above. Editors should use the earliest versions of each poem where possible. See Text 140 for further information about Mrs Clark (Bean Torra-Dhamh), Text 161 on Donald Matheson, and Text 163 on Duncan Lothian.
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