MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Òran an t-SÀighdeir
(The Soldier's Song)

Performed by Lauchie MacLellan Accession # 78-054 CB Tape 5 Track 9
Community: Dunvegan Audio: Yes
Genre: War Song

Transcription

Gaelic

'S nam biodh duine nam chòir a dh'èisdeadh ri m'ghlòir
Chan eil mo bhun-sgeòl gun reusan
Gu bheil m' aigneadh cho mòr air a lionadh le bròn
'S chan eil mi air doigh ach èiseil
Ged nach eil mi ach òg 's beag m' aighear ri ceòl
Rinn mo mhanran 's mo phròis mo thrèigsinn
Dol dhan arm le m'cheart dheòin 's mi chaidh iomrall 's a cheò
Is e mo bharagan nach do chòrd na dheidh rium

Is nuair a shuidh sinn mun bhòrd 's a ghlac mise'n t-òr
Gu robh dream nach robh còir gar 'n èisdeachd
Gur robh danns' agus ceòl cur na bainnseadh gu doigh
B'e mo chall-sa bha mòr na dheidh sin
Fhuair mi gealldanas mòr le bann agus còir
Air nighean Righ Deòrs' mar chèilidh
Is nan creidinn ar sgeòil cha b' èis dhomh ri m'bheò
Ann an airgead 'na 'n òr 'na 'n èideadh

Is iomadh latha fliuch fuar thug mi marachd a chuain
Fon a chinn an dath ruadh 'e air m' èidibh
Thug mi turus dà uair gu Rìgh Lochlann mu thuath
'S ann dhe rìoghachd bu chruaidh a'sgeula
Cha robh seud 's a robh luach eadar luingeas i s sluagh
Nach do ghlac sinn an cluas a chèile
Chuir sinn aitreamh na ghual agus gaiseadh na sguab
Thug sinn creach orr' le ruaig 's beum-sgèithe

Is ann am Portugal thall bha mì-fhortan dhuinn ann
Nuair a dh'fheuchar co lanns' bu ghèire
Nuair a ghlac sinn an camp fo luchd altruim na Fraing
Cha robh asgairt ach gann mun d'ghèill iad
Luaidh i ghlas on a cionn air feadh ghlac agus bheann
Gun aon fhacal comannd ga èisdeachd
Bu lionmhor marcaich' each seang ruith le carcais gun cheann
Gur e'n aimhreid a bh'ann 's cha rèite

'S iomadh fardachd 's is frog air na thraoigh mi'n thath-neòin
Bho'n a fhuair mi'n ceud chòta's lèine
'S iomadh clàr agus bòrd air na chàireadh mo lòn
'S air na phàigh mi dhaibh òr na dheidh sin
Chan eil cearn 's a Roinn Eòrp' eadar traigh is tìr mòr
Nach eil làrach mo bhròg 's gach ceum ann
Siubhal fasaichean feòir agus àrd-bheannan ceò
Chuir sinn aghaidh air fògradh 'r èiginn.

Chan eil fàsach no gleann eadar a'Ghearmailt 's a Fhraing
Sasann, Albainn gun taing is Eireinn
Nach do leag mi mo cheann fo sgàil chreag agus bheann
Fon nach freagradh bhi mall ag èiridh
Fear le fheadan 's a champ 's e ga sprèigeadh gu teann
Gur e beag bha dhe m' shùnnd ga èisdeachd
B'annsa geum aig mart seang tighinn gu eadradh 's a ghleann
Is bean ga leagail aig faing 'sa Chèitein

Ged is neònach a chainnt, mar their iad 'sa rann
ACha dean aithreachas mall bonn feum dhomh
'S mi gu faodadh a'chainnt sin aithreamh gu teann
Chan eil urram fìr ann dha chèile
Chan aithnichear san Fhraing co e'n Ghàidheal no Gall
Nuair a thig e le peann mar chlèireach
Nuair gheibh e'n comannd tha e coma dhe' ar call
'S gu bheil mis' air mo shnaoim bho'n cheud latha.

Fhìr a shiubhleas mun cuairt, thoir an t-sòraidh seo bhuam
Bho nach do dh'fhàg mi fear fuath 'nam dheth ann
Thoir an àire gu luath nuair a chluinneas tu'n duan
Ma's leat a bhith buan, dean èisdeachd.
Gur e'n A gentry bhith cruaidh agus lughad na duais
A dh'fhàg bealach mo ghruaig' air bèigeadh
Chuir i'n tainead mo ghruaidh agus moill' ari mo luas
Chaill mi earrann dhe na fhuair mi 'leirsinn.

English

If there was anyone near by to listen to my speech
My story is valid and serious
My mind is so fully filled with sorrow
I can feel nothing but misery
Although I am still young, I have no desire for music
My respect and pride have forsaken me
Joining the army willingly,I was lost in the mist [lit. Lost my way]
I was afterwards very displeased with my bargain.

When we sat round the table and l took the gold
The others were all listening
It was like a wedding celebration with music and dancing
Great was my loss afterwards.
I was promised much and the bond secured
I was wed to King George's daughter
And if I believed their story, as long as I live
I would never want for silver, gold or fine clothing

Many a wet cold day I spent sailing the seas
Since my clothing acquired a red hue
I journeyed twice to the king of Denmark
His kingdom suffered much hardship
There was nothing of value between ships and lead
That we did not take as we advanced
We burnt his dwellings to a cinder, and brought a plague on his sheaves
With sword blows we pillaged and routed them victoriously.

It was over in Portugal we met with misfortune
Comparing our lances for sharpness
By the time we took the camp from the defenders of France
We had little tow left before they surrendered
Grey lead was flying all around over valley and hill
There was no heed paid to any word of command
Many's the man on a gaunt horse became a mounted headless carcass
There was great confusion and no truce.

On many a nook and plain I lay down to take my midday meal
Since I was given the first coat and shirt
On many a slab and table my food was served
For which I afterwards paid with gold
There is no place in Europe between shore and land
That does not have the imprint of my shoe on it
Over stretches of grass and high misty mountains
We barely expelled the enemy.

There is no wasteland or glen in Germany or France
England, Scotland and also Ireland
On which I did not lay my head, shaded by crag and ben
For it would not do to be slow in rising
The piper in the camp sounded shrilly,
But I was in no mood to listen
I'd sooner hear the lowing of a lean cow echoing through the glen
Being led to a fank in Maytime.

Though strange is the tongue they speak, as they say in rhyme,
It is useless regretting losses in hindsight.
I could repeatedly tell of the burdens we bear
Men have little respect for each other
In France a Gael cannot be told appart from a foreigner
Who would come with a pen as clerk
When he gets command he cares naught for our misfortunes
I have noted that from the first day

He who travels around, convey my blessings
As I have left no enemies behind
When you hear the song pay close attention
And if live long do listen
It was the hard heartedness of the gentry and the smallness of the reward
That was the cause of my hair receding.
My cheeks became thin, and my movements slowed down
I even lost some of the sight I was given.


Notes

Well-known in Inverness county and in parts of the Scottish Highland and Islands, this war song was supposedly brought to Cape Breton in the early 1800s by a schoolmaster from Scotland. The song was composed in the late 1700s by Alexander Grant of Glenmoriston. Grant joined the army at a young age and served in Spain, The West Indies, France, Portugal and Denmark.

The tune of the song recorded here is that of “The Pearl of the Irish Nation.” The air was well known in Scotland as early as the 1700s and remained a popular tune for bardic composition in Cape Breton.

 

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