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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ian Munro, the Soldier Poet


Ian Munro, (Military Cross for bravery) was killed in action, October 30, 1918. He volunteered for service in August 1914 and saw action in some of the war’s fiercest battles. At the time of his death the young officer was 28 years old.. Munro was born in Swordale, Isle of Lewis and, writing in his native Gaelic as "Iain Rothach", came to be ranked by critics alongside the major war poets. Derick Thomson - the venerable poet and Professor of Celtic Studies at Glasgow - hailed Munro's work in his Companion to Gaelic Scotland as being: "the first strong voice of the new Gaelic verse of the 20th century".


Ar Tir
Our Land (translation R. Munro)

Brat Shneachda air mullach nam beann,
currachd ceòtha mar liath-fhalt m'an ceann,
feadain is sruthain mòintich
a' leum 's a' dòrtadh,
a' sporgail air ùrlar nan glean,
aig còsan 's mu shàilean nam mò-bheann;
fèid ruadh', fir na cròice,
air sliosaidbh fraoich ruadh-dhonn -
si Tìr nan Gaisgeach a th' ann,
Tìr nam Beann, nan Gaisgeach, 's nan Gleann,
si Tìr nan Gaisgeach a th' ann.

Cloak of snow on the peaks of the bens,
Misty-capped like gray hair about their heads,
Moorland burns and streams
a-rushing –a-gushing-a shooting
a-dashing through the wilds of the glens,
a-rustling onto the floors of the glens,
Interleaved into the “sleeves” rounding the foot of the great bens,
Red deer, big fellows with antlers,
Upon red-brown slopes of heather,
Such is the Land of the Heroes,
And aye, the Land of the Bens, aye, of the Heroes, and of the Glens,
Such our land, the land of the Heroes, aye!
Iain Rothach (1889 - 1918)

Ian Munro, The Soldier Poet

MC Seaforth Highlanders

See An Tuil - Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse.

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