Monthly Archives: September 2014

The poems of Alexander Macdonald (Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair)

Modern poetry in Scottish Gaelic begins with the brilliant, controversial figure of Alexander MacDonald, better known as Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, who was active during the eighteenth century. His only collection, Aiseirigh na Seann Chànain Albannaich (1751), was the first printed book to be published in any Celtic language. His patriotic poems mocked those who had failed to support the Jacobite cause (such as the Campbells), and in “A Chanibal Dhuidsich” George II is mocked as a German cannibal. Not surprisingly, the book was considered treasonable, and burned by the hangman in Edinburgh.

Here, in Gaelic, French, and English is one of his best known poems:

Oran a rinneadh ‘sa bhliadhna 1746 A Song Composed in the Year 1746

From the same site (with translations from John Lorne Campbell‘s 1932 book) are many others:

Oran Nuadh A New Song
O Thearlaich Mhic Sheumais! O Charles Son of James
Clo Mhic Ille Mhicheil (?) The Cloth of McGhille Micheil
Oran Mhorair Mhic Shiomoin An Elegy on Lord Lovat
Oran nam Fineachan Gaidhealach The Song of the Clans
Oran Do’n Phrionnsa A Song to the Prince
Oran Eile Do’n Phrionnsa Another Song to the Prince
Mile marbhphaisg air ant-saoghal On This Age a Thousand Curses
Mhorag Chiatach Achuil Dualaich Graceful Morag of the Ringlets
A channibal Dhuidsich O German Cannibal
Fuigheall A Fragment
Gairm do Phrionnsa Teàrlach A Call to Prince Charles
O togamaid oirnn thar uisge O Let us Go over the Sea
Fuigheall eile Another Fragment
Brosnachadh eile do na Gàidheil Another incitement for the Gaels