Is truagh nach d'rugadh dall mi (English translation)

  • Artist: Arthur Cormack (Art MacCormaig)
  • Featuring artist: Ingrid Kennedy, Mary Ann Kennedy, Bruce MacGregor, Maggie Macdonald, Chas Stewart
  • Also performed by: May Mairead Nic a' Mhaoilein
  • Song: Is truagh nach d'rugadh dall mi
Proofreading requested
Gaelic (Scottish Gaelic)

Is truagh nach d'rugadh dall mi

Fil ò ro, fil ò ro, fil ò ro hug èile,
Fil ò ro, fil ò ro, fil ò ro hug èile,
Air fal li li ò agus hò rò hug èile,
Chan fhaigh mi cadal sàmhach, a ghràidh, 's gun thu rèidh rium.
Is truagh nach robh mis' agus tusa far an iarrainn,
Sia latha na seachdain, is seachd, ochd bliadhna,
An seòmraichean glaiste le clàidheanan iarainn,
Na h-iuchraichean air chall agus dall bhith gan iarraidh.
Is truagh nach d' rugadh dall mi, gun chainnt is gun lèirsinn,
Mus fhac' mi t-aghaidh bhaintidh, rinn aimhleas nan ceudan.
Bhon chunnaic mi bho thùs thu bu chliùiteach do bheusan,
'S gum b' fhasa leam am bàs na bhith làthair às t-eugmhais.
Bu bhinne leam do chòmhradh na smeòrach nan geugan,
Na cuthag sa mhadainn Mhàighe no clàrsach nan teudan,
Nan t-easbaig air latha Dòmhnaich, 's am mòr-shluagh ga èisteachd,
Na ged a chunntadh stòras na h-Eòrpa gu lèir dhomh.
Is truagh nach robh mi fàgail an t-saoghail seo ro-chianail:
Bha dòchas faoin gam thàladh, 's e 'n gaol rinn mo dhìobhail,
Ge fada bhuam a shiùbhladh tu rim bheò bhithinn riut dìleas,
'S nuair thigeadh Latha na Cruinne 's i Mòr Ròs a dh'iarrainn.
Submitted by michealt on Sat, 17/03/2018 - 23:30
Submitter's comments:

Words and tune by Uilleam Ros (1762 - 1790).
The performance on the video omits the first stanza and the first occurrence of the chorus. Somewhere I think I still have a vinyl record with the whole song on it, but it's probably in England and I won't be back there for several weeks. If I find it I'll try to make a video. People with access to the BBC's website's "Bliadhna nan Òran" pages (which I won't have until I get back to England) can try to hear which parts of the song were sung by May Mairead Nic a' Mhaoilein.

Align paragraphs
English translation

It's a pity I wasn't born blind

Chorus: (sung here and after each stanza)
Fil o ro fil o ro fil o ro hook aylu
Fil o ro fil o ro fil o ro hook aylu
Air fal li li o and ho ro hook aylu
I will get no peaceful sleep, love, without you at peace with me.
It's a pity you and I are not where I would ask,
six days in the week, and seven, eight years,
in locked rooms with iron bolts,
the keys having been lost with a blind man looking for them.
It's a pity I wasn't born blind, mute and dumb,
before I saw your feminine face that ruined hundreds.
from when I saw you from the start your virtues were renowned
and death would be easier for me than being here without you.
I though your speech sweeter than a song thrush among the branches,
than a cuckoo in a May morning or a harp of strings,
than the bishop on the Sabbath day with a great crowd listening to him,
even if the treasure of all Europe were to be counted for me.
It's a pity that I'm not leaving this too unhappy world:
a vain hope was enticing me, it is love that destroyed me,
however far from me you travel I will be faithful to you thoughout my life
and when the day of the world1 should come it will be Mòr Ròs2I would ask for.
  • 1. the great day of judgement
  • 2. the girl addressed as "you" throughout this poem, the name could be anglicised as Marion Ross (just as the poet's name could be anglicised as William Ross).
    The story (oral tradition, mainly, although Mòr's marriage is confirmed by contemprary records) is that while he was working in his father's business in Gairloch - the family had moved back to the west once the children, including Uilleam, had completed their education in the classics in Forres, where the family had moved specifically to make it possible for them to get that education - he went, when still a teenager, to Stornoway on business and met Mòr Ròs and fell head over heels in love with her; but courting at a distance that included a long sea journey across the Minch, which can get pretty wild at times, wasn't gong to work, besides which Mòr hadn't taken a fancy to him at all, and the several romantic poems he wrote for her didn't have the desired effect. In 1782, when Uilleam was 19 years old, Mòr married a Captain Clough, who was Captain of a boat which sailed from Liverpool to Stornoway and beyond (so a fairly serious ocean-going boat for its time) and sailed off to Liverpool with him. Uilleam was not happy
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Submitted by michealt on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 00:49
The author of translation requested proofreading.
It means that he/she will be happy to receive corrections, suggestions etc about the translation.
If you are proficient in both languages of the language pair, you are welcome to leave your comments.
Idioms from "Is truagh nach ..."
See also
petit élève    Sun, 18/03/2018 - 01:03

and a blind man to be looking for them -> I suppose it's "(I would ask for) a blind man to be looking for them", but what is the difference with "and/with a blind man looking for them"?

a song thrush of the branches -> I'm not sure I get this one. Is it like "a thrush song (coming) from the branches" or "a thrush singing in the branches"?

Mòr Ròs -> I wouldn't mind a footnote there Regular smile

michealt    Sun, 18/03/2018 - 04:11

That "to be" was just me being careless with the translation - when "bhith" is used purely to add a syllable (or sometimes "a bhith to" to add two syllables) to satisy the metre it should be thrown away on translation because it shouldn't be there in English. The only reason it's present in the Gaelic is to add that extra syllable (or two) to fit the metre, it doesn't actually change the meaning (obviously, someone might stick "is" there in the English if they wanted an extra syllable for the metre, but I'm not attempting to write English verse when I translate).
"song thrush of the branches" specifies that the song thrush (species Turdus philomenus) does not belong to the subspecies Turdus philomenos hebridensis (which nests on the ground, not on branches of trees or bushes) so must belong to one of the other two song thrush subspecies, either Turdus philomenos clarkei or Turdus philomenos philomenos (probably clarkei, as that's common in Britain and parts of Western Europe). I should have change "on" to "amongst" which would still make that point for anyone wondering exactly which kind of song thrush was meant but wouldn't confuse anyone who wasn't aware that there are multiple subspecies and that this can distinguish them.
Mòr Ròs was the girl who married someone else and sailed off to England - no relation to the poet, I think, despite the shared surname. I'll add a footnote with a bit more of the background after I've had some sleep.

petit élève    Sun, 18/03/2018 - 04:24

ah ok, I had missed the bird's real name Regular smile