From Wood to Ridge
by Sorley MacLean
Contemporary Gaelic poetry from Sorley MacLean. The poem is an evocation of the people of Hallaig, a township that was completely cleared in the early 1850s, with most of the inhabitants shipped to Australia. It’s not only about the awful things which happened to so many people all those years ago, but also the sense of loss in terms of what Scotland might be today had the clearances not taken place.
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“He was entirely a Gaelic poet. The book’s entitled Collected Works in Gaelic and English, but he never wrote a poem in English: he wrote all his poetry in Gaelic and then translated it. He grew up in Raasay, a little island just off the coast of Skye, and I’d say he’s seen as the greatest Gaelic poet of the 20th century. One person who has written most perceptively about Hallaig is Seamus Heaney, who made his own translation. As Heaney indicated, in some ways the poem is quite straightforward and simple.” Read more...
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James Hunter, Historian