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Dain do Eimhir
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Gaelic, Poetry
Publication Date
15 April 2008
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
Age Range
21st Century

Dain do Eimhir

by Sorley MacLean - Find out more about the author

‘One of the very greatest of Gaelic poets ... and one of the great love poets of the world’ – Iain Crichton Smith

‘The major achievement of Scottish Gaelic poetry in the 20th century’ – Christopher Whyte

'Some of the most powerful love poetry of the 20th century' – The Scotsman

'Christopher Whyte has performed an enormous service to poetry and to MacLean's reputation in particular by bringing the 'Eimhir' poems into one annotated and contextualised volume' – Poetry Ireland

MacLean’s finest work is to be found in the sequence of themed poems, Dàin Do Eimhir agus Dain Eile/ Poems to Eimhir and Other Poems (1943). Written mostly during the 1930s, the sequence consists of forty-eight love poems addressing a universal ‘eimhir’, or woman. At the heart of the poems is a sense of lamentation for lost love and opportunity yet they are also sharply political.

Click to hear Sorley reading Shores/Tràighean from Poems for Eimhir/Dàin do Eimhir

Sorley MacLean was born on the island of Rasaay in 1911. He was brought up within a family and community immersed in Gaelic language and culture, particularly song. He studied English at Edinburgh University from 1929, taking a first class honours degree. Despite this influence, he eventually adopted Gaelic as the medium most appropriate for his poetry. He translated much of his own work into English, opening it up to a wider public. During the Spanish Civil War MacLean was torn between family commitments and his desire to fight on behalf of the International Brigades. He eventually resigned himself to remaining on Skye. He fought in North Africa during World War Two, before taking up a career in teaching, holding posts on Mull, in Edinburgh and finally as Head Teacher at Plockton High School. Amongst other awards and honours, he received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1990. He died in 1996 at the age of 85.