Online Poetry Competition

We are currently accepting submissions for our Online Poetry Competition
– open to staff, students or graduates of any Scottish Medical School.
First prize £250, entry is free.

This poem is part of the Poems for doctors project. You can find out more about the project here.

Season 3 : poem 3

Out-of-hours GP Martin MacIntrye reads his poem  An Suaimhneas Bruaillein (In the Tranquillity of Delirium). Martin reads the poem in the original Gaelic. Both English and Gaelic captions are available on the video (click the CC button), and an English translation by Martin is also available below.

An Suaimhneas Bruaillein

Martin MacIntyre

’S ann ri ur seanair Dòmhnall Buachaille
a bha sibh a’ bruidhinn a-raoir
thuirt sibh rium.

Ann an aisling no an soillearachadh seòmair choimhich,
chomhairlich e dhuibh
eadar ceathramhan a chuid òran
gur ann car mar seo a bha i,
an t-slighe
eadar beatha is bàs
air uairean dorcha, ro dhorcha
aig àmannan eile gun dad ga dìth.

Bha sibh mar pheata dha
dh’inns e dhuibh
fear a dh’ fhalbhadh le cuman cùramach gu tobar ghinealach
fear a dh’fhadadh blàths à cruaich a chridhe
fear a dh’ èigheadh prìsean sa Bheurla air creutairean nach gabhadh creic
fear a chunntaiseadh na fàrdain chumhanga nam ficheadan:
notaichean mòra geala an Rìgh aig a’ bhodach fo leab’ a làithean.

Ach cha tug e freagairt idir
air coltas chùisean
an tùs an fhuarain?
an sùil nan lasraichean?
air an fhèill mhòir mhaireannaich
gun dròbhair no beathach no airgead no eagal?

Agus is math sin ’s dòcha,
gu h-àraid, tha grèim ur làimhe deise ag agairt,
seach nach do dh’fhaighneachd sibh dheth.


In the Tranquillity of Delirium

You were conversing last night
with your grandfather Dòmhnall Buachaille
you said to me.

In a dream or in the clarity of an alien ward,
he advised you
between verses of his songs
that it was a bit like this,
the journey
between life and death
sometimes dark, too dark
at other moments without imperfection.

You were like a pet for him
he told you,
someone who could run with a careful pail to the well of generations
someone who could kindle warmth from the stack of his heart
someone who could call prices in English for creatures that couldn’t be sold
someone who’d count tight farthings into piles:
the King’s large white notes under the old man’s bed of days.

But he didn’t give any kind of answer
about the look of things
at the source of the fount?
in the eye of the blaze?
at the great everlasting fayre
without drover or beast or money or fear?

And maybe that’s just as well,
especially, the grip in your right hand contends,
since you didn’t ask him.

Rights: by permission of the author

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