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PREFACE TO CELTIC GARLAND.
N presenting this memorial edition of the “Celtic
Garland” to the Celtic public, I must at the outset express my regret that publication has been so long delayed owing to the war. The delay has been due to the conditions created by the war, which rendered it inopportune to proceed with publication till now.
The majority of the translations found in this work are the outcome of leisure moments, and have appeared in the columns of Highland Newspapers and Magazines. Urged by many friends to preserve those compositions in more permanent form, my father issued his earlier pieces in collected form in the first edition of the "Celtic Garland”in 1881. The present edition contains several pieces translated during the last ten or twelve years of his life.
To all who have attempted rhythmical translations it will be at once admitted that the task is by no means an easy one, especially with languages like English and Gaelic, which are so very different in idiom.
As regards translations from English to Gaelic, it will be observed that nothing like literal renderings have been attempted, my father always maintaining that such a course proved disastrous to the idiom of the mother-tongue. Retaining the rhythm of the original, he always sought to give Gaelic expression to the senti
ments and ideas conveyed by the English verses, which doubtless is the most successful mode of effecting idiomatic Gaelic translations.
The original songs contained in this volume were composed with the view of perpetuating and popularising certain melodies which were apt to pass into oblivion, the words to which they were wedded, with the exception of the chorus, having been lost. Since the publication of the first edition of the “Garland” a number of these have been discovered and are now preserved in the "Oranaiche."
The Gaelic readings in this work are, without exception, from my father's pen, and like the poems have nearly all appeared in newspaper or magazine form. They are all suitable for reading at Celtic entertainments.
Encouraged by the rapid sale of the first edition, which was exhausted in little over a twelvemonth after its publication, the second edition appeared in 1885, much enlarged and defects attendant upon amateur effort removed. It, too, had a cordial reception from Celts at home and abroad, and has been out of print for many years.
To my father's friend and mine, Mr. Hector Macdougall, Glasgow, my sincere thanks are due for his careful proof-reading and general supervision of the work as it was passing through the printer's hands.
A. C. W.
* The following sketch of Mr. Whyte, written by one who knew him well, appeared in the "Celtic Review" of April, 1914, and is here reproduced by kind permission of the Proprietors. By the death of Mr. Henry Whyte the small company of Gaelic writers has lost one of its most active and capable members. For a period of almost forty years his pen name of Fionn has been familiar to all lovers of Gaelic literature and music. His acquaintance with the literature, the history, and the music of the Highlands was wide and minute, while his own contributions to Gaelic literature in prose and verse, though not extensive, possess real merit and have won considerable popularity. One can still recall the joy with which his early publications--the 'Celtic Lyre ' and the ' Celtic Garland were hailed by all lovers of Gaelic song. The Celtic Lyre 'gave an impetus to the popular study of Gaelic music which has not yet exhausted itself, and helped to create a demand for similar publications which is being very competently met, one is glad to note, by devoted and accomplished workers in that field. Probably no individual worker in recent times has contri. buted more to diffuse a knowledge of and create a love for Gaelic music than Fionn. Not alone by his books, but even more by his lectures, by his magazine and newspaper articles, and by his extensive private correspondence he has fed the fire of devotion to our national music which is burning so brightly in our day. His own contributions to Gaelic song, though not numerous,
are of full average merit, and some of them have achieved widespread popularity. Two of them at least- Ochoin a Righ si mo ribhinn donn' and 'Dhealaich mise nochd ri m' leannan'-are well-established favourites and are often heard on our concert platforms. He was particularly happy in his translations of Gaelic songs into English. In these translations, while always faithful to the substance and spirit of the original, he exhibited remarkable skill in reproducing its measure and rhythm, so that his versions are usually capable of being sung in English to the Gaelic tunes. This faculty, as also the power, hardly less marked, of turning English verse into Gaelic, he shared with his brother, John, whose recent death removed a most useful worker from the Gaelic field. A large proportion of the most successful translations in the Kelly collection of Gaelic hymns are from the pen of Mr. John Whyte, under whose editorial supervision the volume was issued.
For many years Mr. Whyte found a congenial sphere for his energies in the varied operations of An Comunn Gaidhealach. While actively interesting himself in all its schemes, he rendered notably valuable assistance in connection with the important and difficult work pertaining to the Annual Mod. For this particular service his intimate acquaintance with Gaelic music and song, combined with musical attainments of no mean order, very specially fitted him. But it was perhaps as a journalist-as a writer on subjects connected with the history, folklore, poetry and music of the Highlandsthat his most important work was accomplished. This work, suffering the common fate of its kind, is buried in the files of newspapers and in the pages of magazines, and is consequently in danger of falling into neglect and forgetfulness. He was constantly writing on such subjects as these, and writing with knowledge and accuracy.