There is just something about Scotland, something in the air, the silence, old voices on the wind. Standing in Glen Coe, or on the slope of Ben Nevis, the silence is not so much lonely, as it is palpable, as though in any given second you’re going to be swept away in a moment of a time long since gone.
A’ bheinn luiseanach fhailleanach
Gun choimeas dh’ a fallaing
Air thalamh na Crìosdachd:
A time when only Gaelic and the language of the Picts was spoken, when the land was still wild, and when monsters still held sway in the shadows, when the towering pine and oak and birch still held dominion over the mountain slopes and glens. Sitting there atop a mountain, it’s hard not to imagine the people that would have passed your lonely seat, bracing against the gale as they drove their sturdy ponies onward and over to their lives far below.
‘S ro-neònach tha mise,
Le bòidhchead a sliosa,
Nach ‘eil còir aic’ an ciste
Air tiotal na rìoghachd;
But did they stop and rest here a moment, metres from where I sat, I wonder. Could I have reached out and touched them. Do they see me? Are they still here? Is it the wind that howls, or them, Is it the breeze that stirs my hair, or them, Is it the cold air that tingles my flesh, or is it them.
‘S i air dùbladh le gibhtibh,
‘S air lùisreadh le miosaibh
Nach ‘eil bitheant a’ bristeadh
Air phriseanaibh tìre.
I can never help but imagine these shades huddled around their low burning campfires, low so as to not attract unwanted attention, and wrapped in their great plaids. I can see the lines in their faces, grim lines worn by men who know the hardest is yet to come. I imagine them talking in hushed tones, discussing anything, there supper, the weather, anything. I imagine them singing, perhaps they had survived a skirmish, or stumbled upon a fold of cattle, their voices out of tune, but still managing to find common ground, swirling together, unashamed.
Làn-trusgan gun deireas,
Le usgraichean coille,
Bàrr-guc air gach doire,
Gun choir’ ort r’ a ìnnseadh;
It’s like a tangible link to your ancestors, as though you are occupying the same space as they once did, breathing the same air, feeling the same breeze, and wondering the whole time, as you gaze down at the glen running away from the mountains feet, if they too had experienced that same sensation of awe. Did they stop a moment to admire it, remember it?
Far an uchdardach coileach,
Le shriutaichibh loinneil,
‘S eoin bhuchallach bheag’ eile
Le ‘n ceileiribh lìonmhor.
That’s what I feel when alone on my mountains. That is where the deeper beauty of it all lies for me. All those lives once lived, leaving behind only the weight of their absence. Thoughts and dreams, fears and doubt, emotions stirred with the encroaching nighttime, only to flee the suns light come morning. Like a dream that losses its meaning with every waking second, those fears never seem to loom quiet as large as they once did.
‘S am buicean beag sgiolta,
Bu sgiobalt air grìne,
Gun sgiorradh gun tubaist,
Gun tuisleadh gun dìobradh;
I suppose everyone has a place that they feel truely themselves. Or a place at least, where they feel no need to think, a place where their mind goes comfortably quiet. A place where they can be honest with themselves.
Feadh coire ‘ga shireadh,
Feadh fraoich agus firich,
Air mhireadh ‘ga dhìreadh;
Feadh rainich is barraich
Gum b’arraideach inntinn;
And sometimes for me that’s standing on top of a literal mountain.
The poem, Moladh Beinn Dóbhrain by Duncan Ban MacIntyre
The heartfelt nonsense bout mountains, 100% dioghaltas.