• Julie Fowlis

    Smeòrach Chlann Dhomhnuill → English translation→ English

Font Size
Swap languages

Clan Donald's Song Thrush

Hi lili vak hi lili vak ho al il o
Ho lili vak hi lili vak ho ro i
Hi lili vak hi lili vak ho al il o
I'm a song thrush belonging to Clann Donald.
A song thrush I on the floor at Paball,
shrinking into a sleepy doze,
unwilling to go any further,
in the depths of my sorrow my spirit made a mighty leap.
A song thrush I on the summit of a mountain
seeing the sun and bright skies;
I'll come calmly close to the grove
and I'll be living on other sustenance.
If each bird praises its own land
how then should I not praise
the land of sowings, the land of minstrel bands,
the fruitful, bountiful, well respected land
The land that's not narrow beside the sea
the dear, gentle, mild land,
the land abounding in calves, lambs, and goats,
the land of bread, honied and milky.
I was born in Cladh Cothan,
in Aird-a-Runnair I got my upbringing,
the sight of the proud pulsating sea,
of the giddy, deceptive, frolicsome waves.
Amongst the MacDonalds I grew up.
Sailor people with bright-coloured banners,
swift ships on wide seas,
a people who are not slow to unsheath a blue1 sword.
[chorus] [chorus]
  • 1. tempered steel used to make a sword blade and treated to avoid rust was often blue
Original lyrics

Smeòrach Chlann Dhomhnuill

Click to see the original lyrics (Gaelic (Scottish Gaelic))

Ontano MagicoOntano Magico    Wed, 11/04/2018 - 22:06

ghlas-lann is for glas lann = grey blades
so the line is "a people not mild when baring grey blades".

   Thu, 12/04/2018 - 15:31

glas can mean a whole range of colours. Usually green (green field - that colour is glas), also blue, wan, grey-green, grey-blue, pale, etcetera. Or it can be a noun - lock, handcuff, ... And while "lann" can mean blade or sword, it can also mean repository, enclosure, area... so a glas-lann could be a building with lots of locks (and rusgadh could perhaps mean opening it up so prisoners could escape) - but I think the "sword" meaning is much more likely in mid-18th century Gaelic poetry. A decade later after the German King and the anti-catholic parliament had continued their attempts at genocide and/or ethnic cleansing for a further decade and passed more laws clearly deigned to ensure that no Gael remained free, the lockup meaning would perhaps have been feasible, but not as early as i think this was written.

Ontano MagicoOntano Magico    Fri, 13/04/2018 - 10:19

Glasgerion, is the Welsh bard Keraint (Geraint the Blue Bard) -qualified by the adjective "glas" or Blue (were in fact the Bards - at least those on top of the hierarchy (or noble birth) - to dress blue-like character distinctive of their social status) However, "blue", in Welsh, means "more important, main" and in fact 500 years later Chaucher places it in his "House of Fame" next to Orpheus (or so they believe scholars identifying the Glaskirion of Chaucer with the Welsh bard )

Ontano MagicoOntano Magico    Fri, 13/04/2018 - 10:21

Glasten or glas but once woad or "wild grass" called glastum from Pliny, is the blue color obtained by the ancient Celts a blue-gray (or blue-green) green from the processing of the wading grass, an herb also called yellow grass because of the color of its inflorescences, the Isatis tinctoria of the Brassicaceae (the family of cabbages so to speak).