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The Cuillins of Rhum

Lyrics by G. Bok, melody traditional arranged by the Tannahill Weavers

 
We learned this song in a very roundabout way from the singing of Archie Fisher.  We first heard it "after hours" in San Francisco by someone whose name has disappeared into the mists of Glenfiddich.  Subsequent "trackery downery" led us to Archie's excellent album Sunsets I Have Galloped Into where it is called The Cuillins of Home.  The melody is traditional; Gordon Bok is credited with the lyrics, which seem to be based on the English translation of a Gaelic poem to be found in The Road to the Isles by Kenneth MacLeod.  We have used his title The Cuillins of Rhum.  Rhum is an island lying off the west coast of Scotland, famous for its beauty and known locally as "the island where no one worries for very long".  There is a lovely example of this in a story concerning an old married couple living on the island.  One night, as they lay in bed, the wife notices that her husband is having difficulty sleeping.

"Archie", she asks, "Why are you not sleeping?  Is something worrying you?"  "Och, aye", says he, "It's our next door neighbor, Angus Macfadzean.  I owe him 500 and I can't pay him."  As calmly as you like, his wife gets out of bed, walks to the bedroom window, opens it, and calls out into the evening air, "Angus Macfadzean!  My husband does not have 500!  He cannot pay you!"

Calmly she walks back to the bed, kisses her husband lovingly on the cheek, and says, "There you are dear, off you go to sleep and let him worry now."


LYRICS:

Soon shall I see your bright shores in the morning
The heather of hills and the rising of morn
The rolling grey sea mist rolls east in the morning
To run the wild hills of the cuillins of Rhum

Far away seaward thy green hills are lovelit
Where runs the hill water afoam to the sea
Like tangle at noontime, like snow wreath in moonlight
As thou who art yearning will yearn it to be

Far away seaward my queenland, my youthland
Far away seaward the cuillins of home
And here in my dream time I'm hearing hill water
The laughter of streams by the cuillins of Rhum

 

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