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Metadata for text 71
No. words in text9778
Title Dain agus Orain (Poems and Songs)
Author MacLeod, John
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1918
Date Of Language 1900-1949
Publisher An Eachdraidh Tuathach
Place Published Inverness
Volume N/A
Location National and local libraries (Highland, Reference only)
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Sutherland
Register Literature, Verse
Alternative Author Name N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 18.2cm x 12.3cm
Short Title Dain agus Orain
Reference Details NLS: HP1.78.4034
Number Of Pages 68
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context John MacLeod was born in Culkein, in Stoer in Assynt, sometime in the nineteenth century. In the Preface (p. 7), the author explains that he was born on the same croft as his father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, and that although he considers himself a native of Assynt, he believes that the family came from Skye and that their chief was MacLeod of Dunvegan. He was educated in the Free Church school in Culkein and at Tain Academy, before studying at Edinburgh University.

MacLeod completed his theology course at Glasgow University under Professor John Caird. When on the point of entering the ministry of the Church of Scotland, he was offered the position of ‘the senior mastership’, in Warminster Grammar School. Shortly after taking up the post, however, MacLeod fell seriously ill. He stayed with a friend during his convalescence and, while there, coached his friend’s two sons for their exams. Having recovered, he took up various positions as a private tutor in noblemen’s families and these were possibly the happiest days of his life. He finally settled in London as a lecturer in English Literature, Philology, and Constitutional History, ‘in two of the best known institutions for preparing men for Sandhurst and for the Civil Service of India’ (p. 8).

MacLeod later fell ill again and returned to Assynt to convalesce. After moving home, he contributed much to the community there, helping crofters with their business affairs, advising them on medical matters, helping to secure a pier for the township, and securing a local postman for the different townships in the area. In addition to this volume, MacLeod published The Spiritual Vision in 1911.
Contents This volume begins with a copy of the Dedication (p. 5) to Rev. George Henderson that was published in the first edition, with an additional note informing us that Henderson died between the first and second editions. There follows a Preface by the author (p. 7), in which he introduces himself to the reader (see Social Context above).

This edition of MacLeod’s Dain agus Orain contains 19 Gaelic songs, and 10 songs in English. The Gaelic songs are as follows:

Caismeachd nan Gaidheal (p. 11): a song encouraging the Gaels to rise up and be free.

Failte na Duthcha (pp. 12-14): a song in praise of Scotland, and particularly Assynt.

A h-Uile Latha Chi ’s Nach Fhaic (p. 15-16): in which the poet reminisces about his childhood in Culkein.

Oran a Bhata (p. 17-18): a song about ‘Mac Dhomhail mhic Uilleim’ and his sailing prowess.

“C’ait am Faic mi do Dhreach-sa” (p. 19-20): a love song.

Seumas MacCoinnich nach Mairionn, 1802-1889 (p. 21-23): an elegy for Seumas MacCoinnich who was an elder in the Church of Scotland.

Iain Macchoinnich (p. 24-26): an elegy for Seumas MacCoinnich’s grandson, Iain, who had been a pupil teacher at Culkein School.

An t-Urramach Iain Ross, 1813-1888 (pp. 27-29): an elegy for Rev. Iain Ross.

Domhnull Macleoid, 1812-1875 (pp. 30-32): an elegy for Domhnull MacLeoid.

Beannachd Leat, Aonghais (p. 33): a song for Angus Mackay of Kinlochbervie in which the poet reminisces about a day they spent sailing together.

Seonaid (pp. 34-35): part love song, part reminiscence, in which the poet travels home and thinks back to his childhood there, reminiscing particularly about the young girl who has since died.

Seann Ian agus Ian Òg (pp. 36-38): an interesting song which sees Seann Iain and Iain Og taking stanza about to expound their views on life and death.

Aonghas Beg (pp. 39-40): a humorous song, written after the author met Aonghas Beag on his way home one night with a spinning wheel.

Ian Macoidh, C.E., Hereford (pp. 41-42): another elegy which commemorates John Mackay, Hereford, in life and in death.

Dol Fodha na Grein—Gloir na Seann Aois (pp. 43-44): a song in which the poet discusses how people’s opinions of life and death change as they get older.

An Airidh (p. 45): where the author describes the shieling he knew in his youth and the happiness felt by all who were there.

Air Cuimhne E.S.M. (pp. 46-47): both a love song and an elegy, it appears as if it was written by the author to his wife, and it describes his feelings as he looks upon her body and sees no love or laughter in her eyes.

Adhlacadh an Ridire Iain Moore (pp. 48-49): a Gaelic translation of The Burial of Sir John Moore, describing how Moore was buried by his comrades during the Siege of Corunna before they retured to the fight.

Eachann Ruadh (pp. 50-51): a cheerful and mildly humorous song to ‘Eachann Ruadh Pollan na’n Clach’.
Language The songs are well written in easy to read, flowing Gaelic, with competent versification. The author is fond of inserting exclamation marks, often in places which seem unsuitable to modern eyes, but otherwise the poems read very well. There are a number of typing errors in the text, but none that obscure its meaning. The songs cover the subjects of love and nature, sailing, war, and elegy.

In Fàilte na Dùthcha (pp. 12-14) we find a number of sailing terms, e.g. ‘Gus na seòid bhiodh air thoiseach \ Air druim na fir dhosach, \ ’S’ a bhirlinn ga froiseadh \ Ann an corruich na gaoith! \ Ba cheol leam a farum \ Eadar shiùil agus sparran, \ Agus toirmrich na mara \ Cur fàilt air na saoi!’ (p. 13-14). In Oran a Bhata (pp. 17-18) we find A stiuireadh a chulaidh (p. 17), Air totan na luinge (p. 17), ’S ramh bràghad na d’ dhorn (p. 17), ‘’S tu chuireadh a spionnadh \ Ann an giubhas na sgothan, \ ’Sa bheireadh ’oith trotan \ ’S na dosraich fo sroin’ (p. 17), and Do bhonnan ri’ reangan (p. 18), Le iorram na d’ bhilean (p. 18), Ach a stiuireadh na bìrlinn (p. 18), and Troimh stuadhanan fhiadhaich (p. 18).

A number of the songs contain references to nature, e.g. ‘Nar bhiodh na sobhragan cho cùbhr’ \ ’S an dealt air barr nan neoinean’ (p. 15) and this is especially true of the love poems. For example, in “C’ait am Faic mi do Dhreach-sa” (pp. 19-20) we find ‘Bu tu solus mo smuaintean, \ Reult-mhaduinn na spèur, \ Flùr an t’samhraidh ’san dealt air \ Ann an dealreadh [sic] na grèin’ (p. 19) and ‘Ann a solus glan do ghnàis \ Bha saoghal dhomhsa deant’ as ùr— \ Ceòl nan eoin is blath na flùir, \ Is fàile cubhr’ na macharach’ (p. 34). In An Airidh (p. 45), the author describes a scene in which all the local families are gathered together; he also pictures ‘Na miosaran, na cumanan, na copanan, ’s na quaich, [sic cuaich] \ ’S na caileagan a g’ itealaich mar dhealan-dè ma’n cuart!’ (p. 45).

The song Caismeachd nan Gaidheal (p. 11), reads like an incitement to war, although war is not mentioned in the song and it may simply be a call to the Gaels to stand up for themselves and their language. The chorus reads ‘Eiribh, Eiribh, Eiribh ’Chlann, \ ’Clann nan Gaidheal, ’shliochd nam beann, \ ’Fhuil nan gaisgich nach bi mall \ Ag ’éiridh gu bhi saor!’ (p. 11). In Adhlacadh an Ridire Iain Moore (pp. 48-49), MacLeod describes the occasion of Sir John Moore’s burial: ‘Cha do bhuail sinn an druma, na teud’an a chraidh. \ ’Nuair a ghreas sinn le chorp fo dhion balla. \ Cha do loisg sinn an urchar a nochdadh ar baigh \ Far na chuir sinn ar curaidh fo’n talamh’ (p. 48) and ‘Cha d’ rinn sinn an obair na mulad air fad \ ’Nar thug uairadar rabhaidh gu sgaoileadh; \ Agus thuig sinn le fuaim gunna mor anns a bhad \ Gun robh ar namhad gu coimheach ga thaomadh’ (p. 49).

The elegy to Seumas MacCoinnich nach Mairionn, 1802-1889 (pp. 21-23) draws on the terminology of praise in eulogising MacCoinnich, and also that of religious verse, e.g. Mar deadh thochradh o’n Ard-Righ (p. 22), Mar air altar na soills’! (p. 22), Mar bha i leis an Fhear-Shaoraidh (p. 22), ’san t-Soisgeil (p. 23), Dearbh iomhaidh nan abstol (p. 23), and Dlùth ri Cathair na Gloir’! (p. 23). In Iain Macchoinnich (pp. 24-26) the author describes his sadness at the death of a friend as follows: ‘’S e cheisd a tha ’nise ga’m chlaoidh \ Ann an diomhaireachd aobhair mo lot, \ Carson a tha Spiorad a ghaoil \ Na oighr’ air gach bròn agus olc?’ (p. 25). In the elegy to Domhnull Macleoid, 1812-1875, MacLeod addresses God in the second last stanza, in his sorrow at losing his friend: ‘Ach Thus ’tha uile-chumhachdach \ Tha’ riaghladh Armailt Neamh \ ’S ann uatsa thig gach co-fhurtachd \ Ri d’ thoil a ni mi réidh \ O, teaguisg fhéin dhomh irioslachd \ Fo smachd do ghairdein trèun \ A chum s’ nach bi mi ceannairceach, \ Ri ordugh siorruidh Nèimh’ (p. 32). In Seann Ian agus Ian Òg (pp. 36-38), while Seann Iain says ‘’S e mo bharail gu’n cluinn thu \ O bheatha dhiomhair na doimhne \ Osnaich ’us tuireadh na duibhre \ Mar aon mharbhrann gu lèir!’ (p. 36), Iain Òg is of the opinion that ‘Tha saoghal mar a b’ abhaist dha— \ Làn cridhealas na h-oig \ Ach thus a fas cho muladach \ ’S e ’n aois a rinn do chlò!’ (p. 36).

In Ian Macoidh, C.E., Hereford (pp. 41-42), MacLeod frequently praises Mackay’s Sutherland ancestry, e.g. ‘Ghlè thu onair do shinnsir \ ’S cliù cleachdaidh do mhuinntir \ Ann an giulan na beatha gu lèir’ (p. 41) and ‘Scribhidh mi nis air do bhratach \ Suaicheantas ùr ain fhìor Chatach— \ Comas Moralachd, Carthannas Cèill’ (p. 42).

Other words and expressions of interest include Ann am fochar mo leannan (p. 20), A bha ré iomadh bliadhna ’na Fhoirfeach san Eaglais Shaoir (p. 21), foirfeachd (p. 28), duine diadhaidh cheama [sic] (p. 50), Rheanachait ’s an dochair dha (p. 50), Cho aigeantach le bragaireachd (p. 51), and ‘Dh’annsa Ruidhle Thullachan \ Air cas-chròm ’ga fudlan’ (p. 51). Also of interest is the frequent use of the word lathaireachd (e.g. p. 27).
Orthography The use of Mar ri (p. 13) and fagus (e.g. p. 30) may be representative of the author’s Sutherland dialect, as may the following: Gu’m ’eil (p. 37) and Ga ’m ’eil (p. 50), tre (p. 24), Shaola tu (p. 51), Na ’m faic’ a t’us a g’ obair e (p. 51), Nar rather than Nuair (e.g. p. 15), an Oigh ad (p. 19), Mas rather than Mus (p. 21), the frequent use of a rather than do in past tense verb constructions, e.g. Gun a dh’ eug fear ba chràbhaich (p. 21), the frequent use of ba rather than bu e.g. fear ba chràbhaich (p. 21) and Ba toil’am (p. 13), ni ’s mò (p. 30), cho iorusol (p. 50), the intrusive t in Reult-mhaduinn (p. 19) and ma’ stròin (p. 18). In addition, we find the use of a ta in Fhuair mi sgeul a ta cràiteach (p. 21), and the following forms: nach ro feum orr’ (p. 16) beside the usual robh (e.g. p. 49), Scribhidh mi (p. 42), chi’inn (p. 46), an Dunèdin (p. 15), Nach Mairionn (p. 21), and deadh (p. 22).

The orthography is in general that of the early twentieth-century, albeit with a number of unusual spellings, some of which result from the author’s desire to represent dialectal forms. The rule of caol ri caol is leathann ri leathann is not always followed, e.g. uairadar (p. 49).
Edition Second edition. The first edition was published in 1907 by the same publisher (NLS: H.M.320(2)). The first edition contains only 14 Gaelic songs, and 3 songs in English, as compared to the second edition’s 19 Gaelic songs, and 10 songs in English. One of the Gaelic songs in the first edition, however, is not reprinted in the second edition, namely Henry M’Kenzie (1907 edition, p. 41). A yet earlier edition, published in Edinburgh, in 1900, comprises the first 9 Gaelic songs printed in the two later editions. While the fifth song in this edition is named Ealaidh Ghaoil, it is in fact the same poem as presented in the 1907 and 1918 volumes under the title “C’ait am Faic mi do Dhreach-Sa”. The orthography of the three editions appears to be roughly the same. A number of typing errors from the 1907 edition have been corrected in the 1918 edition, although a number of typing errors remain. I believe that the 1918 edition is the most useful to the project given that a greater number of titles are included.
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