Wednesday, January 14, 2009

English translation of the Scots lyrics for Freedom Come All Ye

Freedom come all ye is one of the most significant Scottish songs. It describes the post war collapse of empire and presents an internationalist image of a world of freedom and justice where Scotland will have its own place free from the stain of imperialism.

The original Scots lyrics are rather impenetrable even for Scottish people so I thought I would have a stab at an English translation.
I started with the English translation found in the Wikipedia article.

This does not scan with the melody, is not singable and loses any poetic sense.
It tries to translate "Broomielaw " which is a place name, which does not seem worth doing.
I also don't think its necessary to take all the Scots words out of the song to make it more accessible.

So here is my attempted translation:

Freedom Come All Ye
Original Scots Lyrics by Hamish Henderson, this version by Gordon Hudson

Rough's the wind in the clear day's dawning
Blows the clouds head-oer-heel across the bay
But there's more than a rough wind blowing
Through the Great Glen of the world today
It's a thought that would make our vermin
All those rogues who strut and swagger without care
Take the road and seek other lodgings
With their vile schemes to sport and play

No more will our fine lads be commanded
to march to war at a braggarts call
Nor wee weans from pitheads and clachans
Mourn the ships sailing down the Broomielaw
Broken families in lands we've vanquished
Will curse "Scotland the Brave", nae mair, nae mair
Black and white to one another married
Will make the slums of their masters bare

So come all ye at home with freedom
Never heed those prophets of doom
In your house all the bairns of Adam
Will find bread, drink and painted rooms
When Maclean meets with friends in Springburn
All the rose and cherry trees will turn to bloom
And the black lad from Nyanga
Will break the powers of his masters doon.