Julian Farmer – Five Poems & Translations

PoetJulian Farmer is a poet and a translator of poetry from quite a number of languages. He lives in England and his book of poems, Humanities, is published by Fand Music Press. His work has appeared in Acumen, Modern Poetry in Translation, The London Magazine, The Shop, Litro and Stand.


AN GILLE DUBH CIARDHUBH

ante 1776

Cha dìrich mi bruthach
Is cha siubhail mi mòinteach,
Dh’fhalbh mo ghuth-cinn
Is cha seinn mi òran;
Cha chaidil mi uair
O Luan gu Domhnach,
Is an gille dubh ciardhubh
Ag tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

Is truagh nach robh mi
Is an gille dubh ciardhubh
An aodann na beinne
Fo shileadh nan siantan,
An lagan beag fàsaich
No an àiteigin diamhair,
Is cha ghabhainn fear liath,
Is tu tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

Dh’òlainn deoch-slàinte
A’ ghille dhuibh chiardhuibh
D’uisge dubh an lòin
Cho deònach ʼs ge b’fhion e;
Ged tha mi gun stòras
Tha na’s leóir tighinn gu m’ iarraidh,
Is cha ghabh mi fear liath
Is tu tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

B’ éibhinn leam còir
Air a’ ghille dhubh chiardhubh,
Fhaotainn r’a phòsadh,
Nan deònaicheadh Dia e;
Rachainn leat do’n Olaind,
Ochòn b’e mo mhiann e,
Is cha ghabh mi fear liath
Is tu tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

Brìodal beoil thu,
Gràdh nan ban óg thu;
Pòitear fion thu,
Is an saoi nach sòradh;
Is tu fearail fearrabhuilleach,
Sealgair air mòintich,
Is cha ghabh mi fear liath
Is tu tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

Is luaineach mo chadal
O mhaduinn Di-ciadaoin;
Is bruaidleineach m’ aigne,
Mur furtaich thu, Dhia, orm;
Mi an raoir air dhroch leabaidh,
Chan fhada gu’n liath mi,
Is an gille dubh ciardhubh
Ag tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

Mo gille dubh bòidheach,
Ge gòrach le càch thu,
Dhèanainn do phòsadh
Gun deoin mo chàirdean;
Shiubhlainn leat fada
Feadh laganan fàsaich,
Is an gille dubh ciardhubh
Ag tighinn fo m’ ùidh.

Mo ghille dubh laghach,
Is neo-roghainn leam t’fhàgail;
Nam faicinn an cuideachd thu,
Thaghainn roimh chàch thu:
Ged fhaicinn cóig mìle,
Air chinnt gur tu b’fhearr leam,
Is an gille dubh ciardhubh
Ag tighinn fo m’ ùidh.


LIGHT ON THE FAR HILLS

In a pool of light,
on the edge of perception,
are the hills – a land,
a nation of views.

I once lived there
and walked in those hills.
Mine was a quirky,
nonchalant gait.

I picked my way
between stumps and leaves,
trod grassy knolls,
and crossed clear streams.

Like the rivers that cross
the empty desert,
friendships came
into my life.

Some were men,
some were women,
companions at ease,
a touch or a kiss.

But the fairest of all
was an honest few words,
and a smile that spoke
its musical truth.

Truth, like the clod,
like the branch, like the mulch,
echoes in the light
of the hills, on the brink.

Truth, like the empty
pain of the gut,
like fondness, and union,
like song, and like love.


OUR SILENCE

Every moment of silence is beautiful.
And then, on the silence, is played
a tune:

something traditional, earthy,
with a lilt, a poise, in the silence,
the simplest tune.

And love is like that…
It plays on the silence, becomes its theme
and conjoins.

Our hearts beat a pulse,
meter the silence, playing the tune
of our years.


THE DARK, DARK LADDY

ANONYMOUS (Scots Gaelic) before 1776

I will not ascend the slopes
and won’t cross the moors;
my voice having failed,
I’ll not sing my song;
I will not sleep an hour from
Monday until Sunday.
The dark, dark laddy
is stealing into my love.

And shouldn’t I be sad:
the dark, dark laddy
is the face of the mountain
under the rain of the storm,
is a little, empty hollow
in a secluded place.
I’ll not take a grey-haired man.
You’re stealing into my love.

I would drink your health,
O, dark, dark laddy,
with dark water from the pool,
as willingly as any wine.
Although I’m not wealthy
and I don’t get enough that I want,
I’ll not take a grey-haired man.
You’re stealing into my love.

It’s a happy end for me
to take the dark, dark laddy
and have his hand in marriage,
if God be so willing;
but, if you go to Holland,
alas for my desires!
I’ll not take a grey-haired man.
You’re stealing into my love.

The flattery of your mouth,
your love of young women,
and your drinking of wine
are wisdom’s spontaneity;
You’re manly and have prowess,
a hunter on the moors.
I’ll not take a grey-haired man.
You’re stealing into my love.

My sleep has been so restless,
from last Wednesday morning;
my mind’ll be so deranged,
if I’m not consoled, O, God!
Last night, my bed was awful;
soon I’ll be grey too.
The dark, dark laddy
is stealing into my love.

Though you’re foolish with others,
my dark, handsome laddy,
I’ll make a contract of marriage
without consent from my kin;
I’ll travel far with you
to remote, desert valleys.
The dark, dark laddy
is stealing into my love.

My dark, kind laddy,
I wouldn’t want to lose you;
if I see your associates,
you’ll pledge yourself before them.
Although I may see a thousand,
it’s certain you’re my man.
The dark, dark laddy
is stealing into my love.

* Translation: Julian Farmer


THE JOURNEY TO SEAL ISLAND

My father thought the man
had been a prisoner,
perhaps let out the day before.

At fourteen, I set out
in a flat-bottomed boat
from Oban to Seal Island.

I must have been a curious sight,
me with my orange hair,
the Grant tie I wore, and bleached white skin.

“Circumstance!” the man said.
“Circumstance is everything!
Never judge, but for circumstance!”

If he had known the route
my life would take,
wouldn’t he be right?

On that voyage, there was a squall
before the sun came out
and the seals were joyful creatures.

 

 

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