Praise of Ben Dorain



SKU: 978 1 902944 30 2 Categories: ,


Duncan Ban MacIntyre’s long poem in praise of the great mountain of Ben Dorain in Argyll, is one of the finest achievements of Gaelic literature, a rich, rhythmic, unsentimental appreciation of wild landscape, its deer and the hunter’s relationship with both. Composed on the model of pibroch (the great musical form of the bagpipes) it was first published as part of Duncan Ban’s collected poems in 1768, having been transcribed from the poet’s own recitation, since he was himself illiterate and had committed all of his verse to memory. In this new edition of the work, the original Gaelic is reproduced along with a sparkling new version in English by Alan Riach, poet and professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University.

‘Alan Riach delights in the polysyllabic rhythms of English to capture the assonantal pibroch-energy of Moladh Beinn Dóbhrain, and you can almost hear the rattle of fingers on the chanter in this wonderfully lively version of Duncan Ban’s masterpiece.’
– Roderick Watson

‘Riach’s invigorating response is informed by a richness of sound and imagery that goes beyond translation and searches deep into the heart of MacIntyre’s Gaelic masterpiece.’
– John Purser

‘Alan Riach brings Duncan Ban fully into the 21st century: the sustained richness of language, rhythmic drive and flow of thought mirror the original in such a way that non-Gaels are allowed unusual access to the Real MacIntyre, while demonstrating that he is as much of our time as of his own.’
- Aonghas MacNeacail


Praise over all to Ben Dorain –
She rises beneath the radiant beams of the sun –
In all the magnificent range of the mountains around,
So shapely, so sheer are her slopes, there are none
To compare; she is fair, in the light, like the flight
Of the deer, in the hunt, across moors, on the run,
Or under the green leafy branches of trees, in the groves
Of the woods, where the thick grass grows,
And the curious deer, watchful and tentative,
Hesitant, sensitive: I have had all these clear, in my sight.


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