Oir Nan Speur commissions

The Edge of the Sky | Oir Nan Speur is a theatre project in Gaelic and English, produced by sruth-mara and supported by the 2022 Hebridean Dark Skies Festival. It’s a uniquely Hebridean theatrical adaptation of a book by Italian astrophysicist Roberto Trotta, which attempts to explain some of the most complex ideas in astronomy with only the 1000 most commonly used words in the English language.

As part of the project, sruth-mara commissioned Peter MackayElspeth Turner and Rody Gorman to create new pieces of writing in Gaelic, each inspired by Roberto Trotta’s book and, wherever possible, restricting themselves to only the 1000 most commonly used words in Gaelic. The commissions were supported by funding from Bòrd Na Gàidhlig.

Illustrations by Laura Cameron-Lewis.

Fìor Mhòr
Pàdraig MacAoidh

Tha an sgeulachd mhòr
a’ ruith fo na faclan
mar uisge tro abhainn.
Chan eil crìochan oirre.

Mar liosta de lusan
a chuireas tu nad chuimhne
airson deuchainn-sgoile,
chan eil i fìor

ach bidh i a’ fàs unnad
fo smachd na maille,
an sàs anns gach rathaid
de do smaoineachadh.

Chan eil i idir idir fìor,
ach bidh thu ga creidsinn co-dhiù
gun doigh ann coimhead seachad
air làn-mar’ aice:

“Aon latha bidh coltas ann
eadar dòchas ’s eachdraidh”.
“Aon latha bidh co-chomharran
iomchaidh

airson ar cùis.” Ach an-diugh
siud i,  a’ coiseachd tro ar beachdan,
a’ gabhail òran uabhasach.
Chan eil i fìor ach –

ag ithe an fhìor bheag ’s an fhìor mhòr –
bidh i a’ dèanamh ath-leasachadh,
a’ togail teine-leabhraichean,
a’ leigeil oirre, mar gum b’e.

Real, Big
Pàdraig MacAoidh

The big story runs
through the words
like water through a river.
It has no bounds.

Like a list of plants
you’d store in your memory
for a school-test,
it isn’t true

but grows in you
powered by procrastination,
pushing through each road
of your thinking.

It is not at all true,
but you will believe it anyway,
with no way of looking
beyond its high-tide:

“One day hope and history
will look something
like each other”.
“One day there will be

fitting emblems for our cause.”
But today, there it is,
wandering through our thoughts
humming a terrible song,

eating the real small and the real big
redeveloping,
building up its book-fires,
carrying on as if.

Crann-àraidh na h-Oidhche
Elspeth Turner

Ma ‘s math mo chuimhne
bha sinn a-muigh
ri-taobh an tigh-bidh
air an t-eilean ainmeil ud
a bha air an t-eagal a chur orm
iomadh seachdainn.
Sin far an do sheall thu dhomh iad –
na seachd dhiubh
air theine
shuas an sin:

Nìghean Righ
is a h-athair
is an dithis a chumas i an cois
(is nach iongantach
gu bheil clàr ann
gu bheil an dithis aice nan laighe
ri a taobh, na leapaidh
gun dragh –
a’ reir an dealbh seo, cò-dhiù)

Is an tè a lorg fìor-uisge dhìth sa’ mhadainn
is am fear ìosal a chuireas gach nì ceart
is a sròin beag air ceithir casan
nach tèid fada air falbh bhuaipe

Agus a-staigh
tè bheag nad làmh
tharraing thu dealbh dhiubh
a th’ agams fhathast

Ged a tha mi a’ tuigsinn
gu bheil a h-uile càil a th’ ann
a chì ‘s nach fhaic
soilleir neo nach eil
shuas an sin
neo a’ gluasad tromhainn –
gu bheil a-huile càil an sin
ga tarraing às a chèile:
na lorgan seo a dh’ fhàg thu –
cha dèan às e

Cha tèid seo à sealladh idir
Is na faclan sgriobhte an seo
a’ dannsa
mar na ballaichean teine fhèin;
na lorgan seo
tro mo chuid chloinne
gan leigeil às

Nocturnal Sky Plough

If I remember rightly
We were outside
Beside the restaurant
On that famous island
Which had frightened me
On many a week.

That’s where you showed them to me
the seven of them
on fire
up there:

The Princess
her father
and the two she keeps close
(and how wonderful
this record that she has two
in her bed
and no fuss
according to this drawing, at least)

And the one who brings her fresh water in the morning
and the ‘all jobs man’
and her little nose on four legs
who won’t go far from her side

And inside
a dram in your hand
you drew a picture of them
which I have, still

Though I understand that
the all-there-is
seen and unseen
bright or not
up there
or moving through us –
that all of that
is pulling away:
These markings you left cannot flee

This can’t disappear
the words written here
dancing
like the fireballs themselves
and these marks
through my children
released

An Reul-Iùil Sa Charade / The North Star in the Gloaming
Rody Gorman

air mo shligh’ air ais, an Reul-iùil
sa chiaradh aig Àrd Gunail
is air chruaidh san Linne, na siùil

on my way back, the North Star in the gloaming at Ard Gunel and hard at anchor on the Sound, sails

caora leatha fhèin air a’ Bhealach
is gun aice de threòrachadh
ach na rionnagan ‘s a’ ghealach

a sheep on its own at the breachpass of Bealach and only the stars and moon to guide it

anns a’ chiaradh, air mo mhealladh
is air Beinn Bhràghad thall a’ ghealach
is na neòil a’ dol à sealladh

in the dusk mistaken and the hill at Beinn Bhràghad the moon and stars going out of sight 

air tolman sa mhadainn air Cnoc Fionn
a’ gabhail beachd air na rionnagan
a dh’fhaodadh a bhith os ar cionn

on a hillock on Cnoc Fionn thinking about the mackrelstars that could be up there above us

an aigeal na h-oidhche nam chaithris,
a’ sealltainn thairis air a’ chaolas
agus ceòl na mara ga aithris

in the dead of night up on my own looking out across the sound and listening to the music of the sea

nach e sin cnag na cùise –
mun Artaig eadar an fhionnairidh ‘s an oidhche,
fàileadh lus-na-tùise

is that not the heart of the matter – round the tussocks at Artag eitherbothbetween the lilacwhitewatchingevening and the night, the common lavender’s airscent

aig Dùn nan Eun aig deireadh na ràithe,
an ceileireadh a bh’ ann gu meadhan-oidhche
a’ falbh nas tràithe ‘s nas tràithe

aig Dùn nan Eun at the end of the season, the birdsong that was there till midnight going earlier and earlier

air gach taobh,
na speuran a’ ciaradh –
na feannagan aig Tobar nan Craobh

all around the skies darkening the lazy-bedhoodie-crows at the well of Tobar nan Craobh

bir! sgaorr eun-leadain
a-mach às an adhar os mo chionn
san Dùbhlachd an Glaic an Fheadain

honk! a flock of barnacle-geese out of the air above me in the dark in December in Glaic an Fheadain

breacadh-rionnaich
is mi falbh san fheasgar don mhonadh
thar Chàrn an t-Sionnaich

mackerel sky as I go in the evening to the heathermoor past the cairn at Càrn an t-Sionnaich

a’ mhuir gu h-ìseal na h-aon chobhar
agus de neòil anns an speur
sa mhadainn bho Dhruim nan Gobhar

the sea below me foaming and all those swooncomplexionclouds in the sky in the morning from the ridge at Druim nan Gobhar

aon uair eile, breacadh-rionnaich
os cionn Loch an Iasgaich
anns an iarmailt ghlionnaich

once again, a mackerel sky above Loch an Iasgaich in the hazy heavens  

cha lèir dhomh ‘n t-slighe
‘s an ciaradh a’ nochdadh air an linne
‘s a’ Choille Bheag a’ fàs nas tighe

I can’t make out the way as the glooming nakedappears on the sound and the woods at Coille Bheag wastegrow dullfoggythicker

a’ coimhead na gealaich is nam blàth
os cionn a’ Bhealaich Bhàin sa chiaradh,
dìreach mise ‘s mo sgàth

at tsukimi and hanami above the mountain-pass at Bealach Bàn in the dusk, just me and my dreadshadow

sa chiaradh agus na speuran a’ glanadh
os cionn a’ Mhonaidh Mheadhanaich –
manadh

in the twilight as the skies clear above the moor at Monadh Meadhanach – an owlappiritionlight

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