Ode da'n Aarkey (An Ode to the Sea)

The sea: there's plenty of it and, due to less than desirable circumstances, we're set to get more. Within Celtic culture the sea is given heightened reverence for a multitude of good reasons: (1) it was formed - according to legend - through divine heavenly waters, (2) it notably bears and sustains life, (3) it has the power and tendency to unpredictably take life, and (4) it is inherently mysterious both in terms of what lies across it and what lies beneath it (a lure it may, on occasion, share with well bubbled bath tubs!). For settled and developing Celtic communities the sustenance gained from the sea was and is its chief power, and incidentally in modern times a reason to protect it (see the recent reflective and felicitous article by Alastair Kneale here: http://www.transceltic.com/pan-celtic/lets-rally-save-planet-why-its-cen...).

Given the importance of the sea to the Celtic people there's no wonder it's referenced again and again within Celtic culture, often evoking sentiments of caution, mystery, sadness, and warm remembrance. The following song is one example of the powerful melancholic nostalgia that the sea can generate in the Celtic heart and mind. Originally written in Breton by Groix born Yann-Ber Kalloc'h, "Me zo ganet e kreiz ar mor" recounts a life by and of the sea with white cottages, serene heaths, and hard communal work. The lyrics were translated into Scottish Gaelic and performed by Julie Fowlis on her album Uam under the name "Rugadh mi 'teis meadhan na mara", and so - as a nod to the multifaceted communality shared by our cultures - here I translate the same lyrics into Manx Gaelic as "Rugg Mee ‘sy Çheshvean ny Marrey":

Rugg mee ‘sy çheshvean ny marrey,
Tree leegyn magh,
Ayns y thie gial beg aym aynshen,
Lesh conney gaase mysh y dorrys,
Ta’n moanee cruinnaghey mygeayrt,
Rugg mee ‘sy çheshvean ny marrey,
Yn çheer ny tonn vooar.

Va my ayr, myr e hennayryn,
Ny varrinagh,
Bio neu-ennymagh, gyn gloyr,
Y cretoor boght, va goan dy ghoo,
Moghey as anmagh er mooir, er-flod,
Va my ayr, myr e hennayryn,
Sleaydey e lieenyn.

My voir myrgeddin ec obbyr,
Eer tra v’ee lheeah,
Myrane lhee, lesh ollish my ghruaie,
Neayr’s dynsee mee tra va mee aeg,
Bea obbyr, cuirr as traaue praaseyn,
My voir ee hene ec obbyr dy chosney arran.

For interested parties, the Scottish Gaelic version with Breton and English lyrics can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4QnVclVY3Y


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