Gaelic Poem – Iain MacPherson


The Calum Bàn Buchanan song-poem ‘Imrich nan Eileanach’ (‘The Emigration of the Islanders’) composed on PEI at some point after his 1803 arrival.

Calum Bàn Buchanan’s totemic Gaelic song-poem ‘The Emigration of the Islanders’ is one of the most all-encompassing and engaged PEI-based and PEI-composed pieces in the entire canon of Scottish Gaelic literature regarding migration and displacement. Buchanan takes a clear-eyed and resolutely pro-emigration stance in the debate revolving around the merits of pitfalls in removal acts of chain migration from the Highlands and Islands to British North America, the colony of PEI among the key areas of arrival. Eschewing cultural dépaysement for grasping the chance of land and material sustenance free of the rapacious landlord class back in the Highlands, Buchanan ends his work with the evocative line ‘…’s ann an Eilean an àigh a tha sinn an-dràsta’/‘we are now here in the Island of plenty’. The talk will feature a reading of Iain MacPherson’s modern translation of the song-poem originally commissioned for the 2003 celebrations of the Polly’s arrival in PEI. Finally, it will be given in memory of the late Harry Baglole who was instrumental in planning this talk.

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