Tag Archives: Scottish

(1851*) The Ballad Of Crowfoot by Willie Dunn

Released in 1968 and often referred to as Canada’s first music video, The Ballad of Crowfoot was directed by Willie Dunn, a Mi’kmaq/Scottish folk singer and activist who was part of the historic Indian Film Crew, the first all-Indigenous production unit at the NFB. The film is a powerful look at colonial betrayals, told through a striking montage of archival images and a ballad composed by Dunn himself about the legendary 19th-century Siksika (Blackfoot) chief who negotiated Treaty 7 on behalf of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The IFC’s inaugural release, Crowfoot was the first Indigenous-directed film to be made at the NFB.

Lyrics


Comes the spring and its warm thaw
Around your neck, the eagle claw
Upon your head, the buffalo horn
Today a great new chief is born
So raise him fast towards the sun
A heart now beats, a life’s begun
It’s eighteen hundred twenty-one
Today a Blackfoot soul is, is born

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Your years have gone, the years have past
Your heart is set, your soul is cast
You stand before the Council Fire
You have the mind and the desire
Of notions wise you speak so well
And in brave deeds you do excel
And it’s eighteen hundred fifty-three
And you stand the chief of Confederacy
You are the leader, you are the chief
You stand against both liar and thief
They trade braves whiskey and steal your land
And they’re coming in swift like the wind-blown sand
They shoot the buffalo and kill the game
And send their preachers in to shame
And it’s eighteen hundred sixty-four
And you think of peace and you think of war

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

See the settlers in more numbers
He takes whatever he encounters
You’ve seen the Sioux all battered, beaten
They’re all in rags, they haven’t eaten
The Nez Perce’ were much the same
It seems like such a heartless game
And it’s eighteen hundred seventy-six
And the enemy’s full of those death-dealing tricks
Today the treaty stands on the table
Will you sign it? Are you able?
It offers food and protection too
Do you really think they’ll hold it true?
It offers a reserve, now isn’t that grand?
And in return you cede all of your land
And it’s eighteen hundred seventy-seven
And you know the scales are so uneven

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Well, the buffalo are slaughtered, there is nothing to eat
The government’s late again with the meat
And your people are riddled with the white man’s disease
And in the summer they’re sick and in the winter they freeze and
Sometimes you wonder why you signed that day
But they broke the treaties themselves anyway
And it’s eighteen hundred eighty-nine
And your death star explodes and then it falls

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

The years have gone, the years have flown
A nation since has swiftly grown but
Yet for the Indian, it’s all the same
There’s still the hardship, there’s still the pain
There’s still the hardship, there’s still the strife
It’s bitterness shines like a whetted knife
There’s still the hypocrisy, and the hate
Was that in the treaties? Was that the fate?
We’re all unhappy pawns in the government’s game
And it’s always the Indian who gets the blame
It’s a problem which money can never lessen
And it’s nineteen hundred sixty-seven

Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Maybe one day you’ll find honesty
Instead of the usual treachery
Perhaps one day the truth shall prevail
And the warmth of love which it does entail
Crowfoot, Crowfoot, why the tears?
You’ve been a brave man for many years
Why the sadness? Why the sorrow?
Maybe there’ll be a better tomorrow

Spiorad a’ Charthannais (The Spirit of Kindliness), by the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn (John Smith)

Just book marking this all here for future reference

#highlandclearances
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernera_Riot

From https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2022/02/23/community-of-contested-discourse-in-the-gaelic-development-debate/

And in his great poem Spiorad a’ Charthannais (The Spirit of Kindliness), the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn (John Smith) wrote about island soldiers coming back from the Napoleonic wars, only to find their homes burned to the ground in similar Highland Clearances. Their persecutors, not Napoleon, but domestic oppressors, who:

…reckoned as but brittle threads
the tight and loving cords
that bound these freemen’s noble hearts
to the high land of the hills.

The grief they suffered brought them death
although they suffered long,
tormented by the cold world
which had no warmth for them.


From Gaelic poetry and the British military, 1756-1945 by Wilson McLeod

An atypically incisive example of such rhetoric can be found in the Lewis poet Iain Mac a’ Ghobhainn’s (John Smith) (1848-81) powerful ‘Spiorad a’ Charthannais’ (‘The Spirit of Kindliness’), composed in 1874, at the beginning of the Land Agitation:

A bheil neach beò san linn seo
leis an cuimhn’ an latha garbh
’s na chuireadh an cath uamhann —
Waterloo nan cluaintean dearg?
Bu tapaidh buaidh nan Gàidheal ann,
nuair dh’èirich iad fo’n airm;
ri aghaidh colg nan treun-fheara
gun ghèill ar nàimhdean garg.


Dè ’n sòlas a fhuair athraichean
nan gaisgeach thug a’ bhuaidh?
Chaidh taighean blàth a’ charthannais
’nam baidealaich mu’n cluais;
bha ’m macaibh anns an àraich
’s iad a’ teàrnadh tìr gun truas;
bu chianail staid am màthraichean,
’s am fàrdaichean ’nan gual. . . .


A Bhreatainn, tha e nàireach dhut,
ma dh’àirmhear ann do sgeul,
Gun bhuin thu cho mì-nàdarrach
ri t’fhìor-shliochd àlainn fhèin;
an tìr bha aig na gaisgich ud
a theasairg thu ’nad fheum,
a thionndadh gu blàr-spòrsa
do na stròdhailich gun bheus.


Is anyone presently alive
who recollects that awful day,
on which was fought the fearful fight —
Waterloo of the bloody plains?
A fine victory was won by Gaels
when they rose in battle-arms;
faced with the blade of bravest men,
our fierce foes yielded fast.


What joy came to the fathers
of those who won the fray?
The warm homes of kindliness
towered round their ears in flames.
Their sons were on the battlefield
to save a heartless land;
their mothers were in the saddest plight,
and their homes reduced to ash. . . .


O Britain, it is a disgrace,
should we recount your tale,
relating how hard you dealt
with your own and truest race.
The land that those heroes had,
who saved you in your straits,
has now become a field of sports
for those wasters without morals.


(Meek 2003: 362-5)

Bàrdachd – Spiorad a’ Charthannais

Tha structar teann agus reusanachadh soilleir san dàn seo. Tha sin, le cainnt gheur agus rannaigheachd shiùbhlach a’ bhàird, a’ fàgail gur e seo ionnsaigh cho làidir is a gheibhear ann am bàrdachd Ghàidhlig air na Fuadaichean.

Sa chiad chòig rannan tha am bàrd a’ beachdachadh air gnè spiorad a’ charthannais agus an diofar a dhèanadh e don t-saoghal nan leanadh daoine an dòigh-beatha seo: airson notaichean air seo cliog air Spiorad.

Anns an ath chòig rannan tha e a’ leudachadh air a’ chron a tha dìth carthannais a’ dèanamh anns an t-saoghal san fharsaingeachd: cliog air Dìth airson seo.

Às dèidh rann far a bheil e a’ cur an cèill amasan an dàin, tha Mac a’ Ghobhainn anns an ath chòig rannan a’ càineadh nan uachdaran agus nam bàillidhean airson a bhith cho cruaidh air an t-sluagh: cliog air Uachdarain airson seo.

Anns na ceithir rannan deireannach, tha e a’ toirt ionnsaigh gu h-àraidh air Dòmhnall Rothach, bàillidh Leòdhais: cliog air Crìoch airson seo.

Lean na comharran airson a’ bhàrdachd a mhìneachadh. Nuair a nì thu sin, theirig air ais agus leugh a’ bhàrdachd air fad a-rithist.

Spiorad a’ Charthannais

O Spioraid shoilleir shàr-mhaisich,
A Spioraid ghràsmhoir chaoin
Tha riaghladh anns an àros sin
Tha uile làn de ghaol,
Nan gabhamaid gu càirdeil riut,
Gad fhàilteachadh gu caomh,
'S e siud a bheireadh àrdachadh
Do nàdar chloinn nan daoin'.

Nam b' eòl dhuinn thu nad mhaisealachd
'S nam b' aithne dhuinn do luach,
'S e siud a bheireadh inntinn dhuinn
Os cionn an t-saoghail thruaigh;
Gur sona iad fhuair eòlas ort,
'S len còmhnaich thu gu buan –
'S ann tromhad tha na sòlasan
Tha 'n Tìr na Glòire shuas.

'S tu phàirticheadh gu h-èifeachdach
Rinn gnè nam flaitheas àrd;
An àite greann na h-eucorach
Bhiodh maise 's sgèimh nan gràs;
'S tu sheargadh gnè na truaillidheachd
'S a nuadhaicheadh ar càil;
'S tu thogadh chum nan nèamhan sinn
Le tarraing threun do ghràidh.

O Spioraid chaoimh nan gràsalachd,
Nam biodh tu tàmh nar còir,
'S tu dh'fhuasgladh oirnn 's a shlànaicheadh
An dream tha cnàmh fo leòn;
'S tu thogadh crìdh' nam bantraichean
Gu seinn le aiteas mòr,
'S nach fàgadh gu neo-choibhneil iad
An gainntir dorch a' bhròin.

'S tu mhùchadh teine 'n nàmhaideis
'S an t-sùil as gràinde colg;
'S tu rèiticheadh 's a chiùinicheadh
A' mhala bhrùideil dhorch;
'S tu thogadh neul na h-aingidheachd
Bharr gnùis nan aintighearn' borb
'S a bheireadh gionach saidhbhreis uap'
'S gach aimhleas tha nan lorg.

Ach 's eagal leam gun d' thrèig thu sinn
'S do nèamh gun d' theich thu suas –
Tha daoin' air fàs cho eucorach
'S do ghnè-sa fada uap';
Tha seiche ghreannach fèinealachd
Gan eudachadh mun cuairt –
Chan eòl dhomh aon nì reubas e
Ach saighead Dhè nan sluagh.

A shaoghail, 's fada tuathal thu
On uair sin anns na thrèig
Do charthannas is d' uaisleachd thu,
'S a ghabh thu Fuath is Breug;
Mar inneal-ciùil neo-cheòlmhor dhut,
Gun teud an òrdugh rèidh,
Cha seinn thu pong le òrdalachd
'S cha deòin leat dol air ghleus.

Gur leatsa neart nan aintighearnan
Is gèimhlichean nan tràill;
Gur leat guth treun nan ainneartach
'S guth fann an fhir tha 'n sàs;
Gur leatsa spìd is uabharrachd
An t-sluaigh tha 'n ionad àrd,
'S a mheasas cho mì-fhiùghail sinn
Ri sgùileach air an tràigh.

Gur leat an creideamh buaireasach
A dhùisgeas gruaim is greann,
An creideamh nach dèan suairce sinn
'S nach dèan ar n-uabhar fann;
An creideamh th' aig na diadhairean
Lem miann a' chòmhstri theann –
Nan làimh-san dh'fhàs a' Chrìosdalachd
Mar bhiast nan iomadh ceann.

An searmonaiche prèisgeil ud,
'S ann dh'èigheas e le sgairt
Gur mallaicht' sinn mur èisdear leinn
Ra chreud-san - an tè cheart;
An àite bhith sìor èigheach rinn
Mur dleasdanas 's gach beart,
A dhèanamh daoine cèillidh dhinn
An làthair Dhè nam feart.

O Charthannais, gur h-àlainn thu,
A ghràis as àirde luach!
Ach 's lìonmhor nach toir àite dhut
Gu bràth nan cridhe cruaidh.
Nan deònaicheadh a' cheòlraidh dhomh
Mo chomas beòil car uair,
Gun innsinn pàirt de ghnìomharan
Nam biast thug dhutsa fuath.

Cha robh do ghnè-s' an Dòmhnall bochd,
Am fear bu rògaich goill,
Bha 'n dùil gum biodh gach Leòdhasach
Air fhògaradh don choill;
Ach phàigh e pàirt de dhò-bheartan
Is gheibh e 'n còrr a thoill –
Gun aithnich e gu dòrainneach
Gur feàrr a' chòir na 'n fhoill.

Cha robh do ghnè-s' a' riaghladh
Ann am broilleach iarainn cruaidh
Nam bàillidhean 's nan tighearnan
Chuir sìos an tìr mu thuath;
Bu charthannach na fàrdaichean
Bha seasgair, blàth innt' uair,
'S tha tìr nan daoine còire 'n-diugh
Na fàsach dòbhaidh truagh.

Gun chuir iad fo na naosgaichean
An tìr a b' aoigheil sluagh;
Gun bhuin iad cho neo-dhaonndachail
Ri daoine bha cho suairc';
A chionn nach faodte 'm bàthadh,
Chaidh an sgànradh thar a' chuain –
Bu mhiosa na bruid Bhàbiloin
An càradh sin a fhuair.

A Bhreatainn, tha e nàrach dhut,
Ma dh'àirmhear ann do sgeul
Gun bhuin thu cho mi-nàdarrach
Rid fhìor-shliochd àlainn fhèin –
An tìr bha aig na gaisgich ud
A theasairg thu nad fheum,
A thionndadh ga blàr-spòrsa
Do na stròidhealaich gun bheus.

Nach dìblidh cliù ar mòr-uaislean,
Na fir as neònaich' mèinn –
Carson a tha iad mòr-chùiseach,
'S iad beò air spòrs gun chèill?
Nan còmhdaicheadh na ruadh-chearcan
Lem buachar uachdar slèibh,
'S e siud a b' fheàrr a chòrdadh riu
Na sràidean òir air nèamh.

O, criothnaich measg do shòlasan.
Fhir fhòirneirt làidir chruaidh!
Dè 'm bàs no 'm pian a dhòirtear ort
Airson do leòn air sluagh?
'S e osnaich bhròin nam bantraichean
Tha sèid do shaidhbhries suas;
Gach cupan fìon a dh'òlas tu,
'S e deòir nan ainnis truagh.

Ged thachradh oighreachd mhòr agad
'S ged ghèill na slòigh fod smachd,
Tha 'm bàs is laghan geur aige,
'S gum feum thu gèill da reachd;
Siud uachdaran a dh'òrdaicheas
Co-ionann còir gach neach,
'S mar oighreachd bheir e lèine dhut,
'S dà cheum de thalamh glas.

'S e siud as deireadh suarach dhut,
Thus', fhir an uabhair mhòir,
Led shumanan 's led bhàirlinnean
A' cumail chàich fo bhròn;
Nuair gheibh thu 'n oighreachd shàmhach ud,
Bidh d' àrdan beag gu leòr;
Cha chluinnear trod a' bhàillidh ann
'S cha chuir maor grànd' air ròig.

'N sin molaidh a'chnuimh shnàigeach thu,
Cho tàirceach 'sa bhios d' fheòil,
Nuair gheibh i air do chàradh thu
Gu sàmhach air a bòrd;
Their i, "'S e fear mèath tha 'n seo
Tha math do bhiast nan còs,
On rinn e caol na ceudan
Gus e fhèin a bhiathadh dhòmhs'."

The Poetry of the Clearances by Sorley Maclean

I was just slipping down an internet wormhole on Scottish land rights poetry and song, and came across this juicy nugget:

…the impact of Sorley MacLean’s paper on ‘The Poetry of the Clearances’ – the most powerful piece of socio-political and literary criticism I have ever read

from https://meekwrite.blogspot.com/2013/03/nineteenth-century-studies-third.html

Sounds great, hey? He was a acclaimed Scottish poet, but this paper is not about his poetry but those who came before him and who wrote in Gaelic. I haven’t had a chance to read it in full yet but did a quick flick through after finding a pdf of it here. If this link goes dead then you can also find it hosted here on our website too.

Just parking this all here so I can find it when time comes to do more research on Scottish shazzle and you never know, someone else might find this useful too!

(1790*) Smile In Your Sleep by Jim McLean

Ewan McLennan just suggested this song ‘Smile In Your Sleep‘ to me, written by Jim McLean about the Highland Clearances.

Beautiful and achingly sad, I personally wonder if it needs another few verses, as I felt from The Cheviot The Stag and The Black Black Oil, that there were a number of defiant pockets of (mostly female) resistance to the Clearances which this song doesn’t touch on.

Hush, hush, time tae be sleepin
Hush, hush, dreams come a-creepin
Dreams o peace an o freedom
Sae smile in your sleep, bonnie baby

Once our valleys were ringin
Wi sounds o our children singin
But nou sheep bleat till the evenin
An shielings stand empty an broken

We stood, wi heads bowed in prayer
While factors laid our cottages bare
The flames fired the clear mountain air
An many lay dead in the mornin

Where was our fine Highland mettle,
Our men once sae fearless in battle?
They stand, cowed, huddled like cattle
Soon tae be shipped owre the ocean

No use pleading or praying
All hope gone, no hope of staying
Hush, hush, the anchor’s a-weighing
Don’t cry in your sleep, bonnie baby