Hallaig

Hallaig

Hallaig is a poem by Sorley MacLean. It was originally written in Scots Gaelic and has also been translated into both English and Lowland Scots. A recent translation was made by Seamus Heaney, an Irish Nobel Prize winner.

The poem is named after a deserted township located on the south-eastern corner of the Hebridean island of Raasay, the poet's birthplace. It is a reflection on the nature of time and the historical impact of the Highland Clearances, leaving an empty landscape populated only by the ghosts of the evicted and those forced to emigrate.

The poem is notable for its deployment of imagery of nature, and in this respect is redolent of Duncan Ban MacIntyre's Ben Doran, particularly in its references to woodlands and deer.

Hallaig is incorporated in the lyrics of The Jacobite Rising, an opera by Peter Maxwell-Davies, and can be heard as part of the song "Hallaig" on Martyn Bennett's album Bothy Culture.

MacLean talked extensively about the poem in Timothy Neat's documentary for RTE, Hallaig: the Poetry and Landscape of Sorley MacLean in 1984.

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