Taghadh à lèirmheasan a chaidh a sgrìobhadh mun bhàrdachd aig Iain MacIlleathain, cuide ri beachdan air an clàradh air bhidio agus ann an earrainnean fuaim.
Meek, D. E. ed. (2003)
Caran an t-Saoghail: Anthology of 19th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse, td. xxxi
For John MacLean of Tiree, formerly Bard to the Laird of Coll, but now confronted with a towering North American forest which defies his best efforts at ground-clearing, the whole sad episode which brought him from Caolas, Tiree, to Barney's River is a car, an unfortunate turn of events set in motion by the deceptiveness of the emigrant agents. MacLean's Òran do dh'Ameireaga, also called 'A' Choille Ghruamach' ('The Gloomy Forest')..., was composed after his arrival in Nova Scotia in 1819, but by the mid-1820s he was composing verse of a quite different kind... extolling the virtues of his new environment, which he now so as a god-ordained refuge for those who had been cleared from the Highlands. MacLean's world had taken, in effect, another car – one for the better. His later sentiments were echoed by other poets who found a congenial home in North America. This in itself is sufficient warning that there is no single view of the emigrant experience or the 'clearance experience' among the poets, nor is there a consistency of view in the output of individual poets like John MacLean. Some clouds eventually showed their silver linings, and the pots responded accordingly.
In his 'Oran do dh'Ameireaga, Maclean contrasts his bleak circumstances at Barney's River with the happiness of his boyhood in Tiree, where he enjoyed friendship and much conviviality. His native community is portrayed positively, despite the fact that it must have been sufficiently lacking in sustenance to encourage him to leave it. This 'before and after' scenario – a variation on the theme of caochladh – is not uncommon among the poets throughout the nineteenth century.
Meek, D. E. (2007)
"Gaelic Literature in the Nineteenth Century" ann an The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature: v.2. Enlightenment, Britain and Empire (1707-1918), t.d. 262
Styles current in the eighteenth century did not stop suddenly in 1800, nor did 'major' poets vanish from the scene. Indeed, older panegyric and learned forms of verse, at their height in the eighteenth century, were maintained throughout the nineteenth, but they served purposes different from those of earlier days. This is exemplified in the verse of John MacLean (1787-1848), poet to the Laird of Coll. MacLean, a shoemaker to trade who hailed from Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, emigrated to Barney's river, Nova Scotia, in 1819, and as a consequence there are both Scottish and Nova Scotian dimensions to his verse. He crosses boundaries in other ways also. His verse in praise of the Laird of Coll follows panegyric models which flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and he keeps his eye on lesser lairds and well-to-do tacksmen who were part of the older social order that pre-dated crofting. Much of it may strike us today as strained and sycophantic, curiously detached from the grim reality that very few clan chiefs could understand a single word of Gaelic, far less a Gaelic poem composed in their honour. MacLean was also the poet of his local community of Caolas, Tiree, and he composed much more immediate verse on events affecting ordinary people, such as tragic drownings close to home, and unfortunate liaisons in the dark city of Glasgow. By emigrating to Nova Scotia, however, MacLean was forced to reconfigure his poetic personae. Initially, he was confronted by a towering and hostile 'gloomy forest'. Which compelled him to search his own soul, and to say honestly what he felt, without the props of conventional support. By stressing his own internal perceptions, he conforms to the contemporary romantic paradigm. The result, however, is a song depicting powerfully what we would now recognise as a 'culture shock', and it can be transferred symbolically, from its original setting to many other contexts. Eventually, the 'gloomy wood' was cut down, and MacLean enjoyed a considerable degree of prosperity, which, in turn, changed the tenor of his verse. Lacking an earthly patron in Nova Scotia, MacLean's panegyric instinct turned to the praise of God, and he produced a book of evangelical hymns in 1835. In MacLean's verse, therefore, we can hear several 'voices' addressing us at different stages, and in different ways, all of them reflecting responses, immediate or more considered and long term, to the vicissitudes of a rapidly changing world
Nam biodh e beò an-diugh, co ris a bhiodh e coltach?
Tha amharas gum biodh Iain MacIlleathain, bàrd Tìghearna Cola, tha mi smaointinn gum biodh e car coltach ri leithid Mhurchaidh MhicPhàrlain, tha mi smaointinn.. Nuair a leughas mi bàrdachd Mhurchaidh MhicPhàrlain, tha e cho dìleas dhan a' choimhearsnachd aige, tha e cho dìleas dhan a' chànan, tha brosnachadh dhaoine a bhith dìleas dhan a' chànan agus dhan a' chultar agus a bhith fìor dhan dìleab a bh' aca, agus sin an seòrsa bàrd a bh' ann am bàrd Thìghearna Chola agus tha mi cinnteach gur e sin a' seòrsa bàrdachd a bhiodh e a sgrìobhadh.
Dh'fhaodadh e bhith rud beag sgaiteach, rinn e aoir no dhà agus tha mi smaointinn gur e duine a bha èibhinn, làn spòrs, agus tha mi cinnteach gum bitheamaid a' faicinn bàrdachd dhen seòrsa sin. Cuideachd, 's e bàrd spioradail a bh' ann cuideachd, agus tha mi cinnteach gum biodh e cumail ris an dìleab Chrìosdaidh cuideachd, agus tha sinn fhathast a' faicinn bàrdachd spioradail, no dàin spioradail gan dèanamh agus tha mi smaointinn gun cumadh e ri seo. Chan eil adhbhar sam bith agam smaointinn nach biodh a cheart cho dìleas dhan a' chreideamh a bha cho cudromach 's a bheatha aige.
Ach tha mi smaointinn gum biodh e a' toirt, agus a-rithist, gum biodh e a' feuchainn ris na Gàidheil a' bhrosnachadh agus gum biodh e feuchainn ri rabhadh a' thoirt dhaibh mu na rudan a bha dualtach cron a' dhèanamh air na coimhearsnachdan agus air na cultar aca, agus sin an seòrsa bàrd a bhiodh ann. Tha mi dùil nan robh e mun chuairt san latha an-diugh, leis cho inntinneach 's a bha e 's cho tarraingeach 's a bha e, tha mi duilich nach eil e mun cuairt san latha an-diugh.
Bhiodh e anabarrach fhèin gasda a ghuth a chluinntinn, 's e seinneadair math a bh' ann agus dìreach a bhith ag obair air beagan òrain na chuideachd, beagan seanchais, bha e mion-eòlach air eachdraidh nan Gàidheal agus san t-seagh sin, 's dòcha gum biodh e car coltach ri Iain MacAonghais no cuideigin mar sin, sàr-sgoilear.
'S e sgoilear a bh' ann cuideachd agus 's dòcha gum biodh e san t-seagh sin coltach ri can Iain MacAonghais no na bàird sgoilear a th' againne, Ruaraidh MacThòmais, Dòmhnall MacAmhlaigh, daoine mar sin, Iain Crichton Smith, Iain Mac a' Ghobhainn, na daoine sin a bha an dà chuid sgoilearan agus bàird a bha an sàs ann an obair sgoilearal cuideachd ann a bhith a' trusadh agus a' clò-bhualadh òran. Agus sin obair a rinn Ruaraidh MacThòmais, sgoilear mòr, bàrd cho cudromach 's a ghabhas, duine a bha foillseachadh Gairm thairis air leth-cheud bliadhna, agus sin an dearbh seòrsa duine a bhiodh ann an bàrd Thìghearna Chola, bàrd, seinneadair, sgrìobhadair, foillseachair, fear-trusaidh nan òran agus mar sin, tha mi smaointinn gum biodh e an sàs anns na rudan sin nan robh e beò san latha an-diugh.
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