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Little by Little Beag air Bheag

Learn a Gaelic song - Tha mi sgìth Learn a Gaelic song - Tha mi sgìth

Tha mi sgìth

Fairy tales are commonplace, but have you heard of a fairy song? Well, Tha mi Sgìth is reportedly a fairy song! The other well-known title, Buain na Rainich, means Cutting The Bracken. There are many variations of the story relating to this song, but one version says that the song was originally sung by a fairy who caught sight of a beautiful girl when he was cutting bracken. They fell in love, but alas there was no fairytale ending. When her family learned of the love, they stopped the girl from seeing the fairy and they locked her away. His song mourns the situation. The tune of this song is very old and it is often used as a lullaby. In Cape Breton though, it is often used as a Puirt à beul! Watch Sìneag MacIntyre perform this version of the song.

As with many Gaelic songs, this has a simple chorus. We’ll begin with vocabulary:

sgìth

tired

buain

reap

rainich

genitive case for bracken

raineach

bracken

daonnan

always

The first two lines are really simple to learn:

Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,

I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken

The final lines are also nice and simple to learn:

Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan

I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken

Let’s put the four lines of the chorus together:

Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan

I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken,
I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken

Once you are comfortable with the chorus, here’s some vocabulary you’ll need:

tric

often

leannan

sweetheart

gleann

glen

ceòthar

misty, foggy

binn

sweet

doire

grove

dòmhail

thickset, corpulent

The first two lines are:

'S tric a bha mi fhìn 's mo leannan,
Anns a' ghleannan cheòthar

Often, my love and I,
Were in the misty glens

The second two lines continue:

'G èisteachd còisir bhinn an doire,
Seinn sa choille dhòmhail

Listening to the sweet choir of the grove,
Singing in the corpulent forest

Let’s put that together to create the first verse:

'S tric a bha mi fhìn 's mo leannan,
Anns a' ghleannan cheòthar,
'G èisteachd còisir bhinn an doire,
Seinn sa choille dhòmhail

Often, my love and I,
Were in the misty glens,
Listening to the sweet choir of the grove,
Singing in the corpulent forest

Tha mi sgìth - the second verse

How did you get on? Now try the second verse:

còdhail

meeting

sireadh

pleading, search

Let’s try the first two lines:

O nam faicinn thu a' tighinn,
Ruithinn dhol nad chòdhail

If I saw you coming,
I would run to meet you

The verse continues:

Ach mur tig thu 'n seo gam shireadh,
Ciamar thilleas dòchas?

But if you don’t come here to search for me,
How can hope return?

The verse in full is:

O nam faicinn thu a' tighinn,
Ruithinn dhol nad chòdhail,
Ach mur tig thu 'n seo gam shireadh,
Ciamar thilleas dòchas?

If I saw you coming,
I would run to meet you,
But if you don’t come here to search for me,
How can hope return?

Tha mi sgìth - the third verse)

The third verse is one of the best known verses:

tomain

knoll

bràigh

top

ònar

alone

The first two lines are:

Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain,
Cùl an tomain bhòidheach,

Behind the knoll, the top of the knoll,
Behind the lovely knoll,

The verse concludes:

Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain,
H-uile là nam ònar.

Behind the knoll, the top of the knoll,
Every day, alone.

The whole verse together is:

Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain,
Cùl an tomain bhòidheach,
Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain,
H-uile là nam ònar.

Behind the knoll, the top of the knoll,
Behind the lovely knoll,
Behind the knoll, the top of the knoll,
Every day, alone.

Tha mi sgìth - the fourth verse

In the fourth verse, the thwarted lover is expressing how different he feels to his companions in the fairy knoll! The terms that appear are:

sìthean

fairy-hill/knoll

cridhe

heart

leònadh

wound

càch

others

luinneag

song

crònan

drone

The first two lines are:

Anns an t-sìthean, o, gur sgìth mi;
'S tric mo chridhe ga leònadh

In the fairy hill (or knoll, but I like fairy hill), oh I will be tired,
And often my heart would be wounded

The verse concludes:

Nuair bhios càch a' seinn nan luinneag,
Cha dèan mis' ach crònan

When others sing their songs,
I will do nothing but drone

The whole verse together is:

Anns an t-sìthean, o, gur sgìth mi,
'S tric mo chridh ga leònadh,
Nuair bhios càch a' seinn nan luinneag,
Cha dèan mis' ach crònan.

In the fairy hill (or knoll, but I like fairy hill), oh I will be tired,
And often my heart would be wounded,
When others sing their songs,
I will do nothing but drone

Tha mi sgìth - Let's sing!

The whole song together is:

Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan
I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken,
I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken
'S tric a bha mi fhìn 's mo leannan,
Anns a' ghleannan cheòthar,
'G èisteachd còisir bhinn an doire,
Seinn sa choille dhòmhail
Often, my love and I,
Were in the misty glens,
Listening to the sweet choir of the grove,
Singing in the corpulent forest
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan
I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken,
I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken
O nam faicinn thu a' tighinn,
Ruithinn dhol nad chòdhail,
Ach mur tig thu 'n seo gam shireadh,
Ciamar thilleas dòchas?
If I saw you coming,
I would run to meet you,
But if you don’t come here to search for me,
How can hope return?
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan
I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken,
I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken
Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain,
Cùl an tomain bhòidheach,
Cùl an tomain, bràigh an tomain,
H-uile là nam ònar.
Behind the knoll, the top of the knoll,
Behind the lovely knoll,
Behind the knoll, the top of the knoll,
Every day, alone.
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan
I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken,
I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken
Anns an t-sìthean, o, gur sgìth mi,
'S tric mo chridh ga leònadh,
Nuair bhios càch a' seinn nan luinneag,
Cha dèan mis' ach crònan.
In the fairy hill (or knoll, but I like fairy hill), oh I will be tired,
And often my heart would be wounded,
When others sing their songs,
I will do nothing but drone
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich, buain na rainich,
Tha mi sgìth 's mi leam fhìn,
Buain na rainich daonnan
I am tired and I am alone,
Cutting the bracken, cutting the bracken,
I am tired and I am alone,
Forever cutting the bracken