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Derick Thomson was born in Stornoway in 1921, and lives in Glasgow. After studying in Scotland, England and Wales, he returned to Scotland to teach in universities, and was Professor of Celtic studies at the University of Glasgow from 1963 to 1991. He founded and edited the Gaelic literary magazine Gairm, and included among his many scholarly publications are an English-Gaelic dictionary (1981) and a Companion to Gaelic Poetry (1983, 1994). He has published seven collections of Gaelic poetry, with many English translations, most recently Sùil air Fàire (Surveying the Horizon) (2007)

A’ leum bho ghèig gu gèig

ann a luimead geamhraidh;
tha an crann seo fhathast brìoghmhor,
glòr sìtheil bho na teudan
ged tha sgàineadh reothaidh
air an fhiodh. Am biathadh gann
ach na freumhaichean domhainn,
is dùil ri lì is lìomh is loinn,
bòrcadh barraich is beatha bhuan
anns a’ bhliadhn’ tha tighinn,
ceòl fo chabair is uaine duillich
‘s an cridhe mear
a’ leum bho lèig gu lèig.
From Branch to Jewel (English translation)

Jumping from branch to branch
in winter’s bareness;
this tree is still full of energy,
a fairy music comes from the strings
though the wood is split
by frost. Feeding in short supply
but the roots go deep,
and we await bloom and sheen and elegance,
sprouting foliage and continuing life
in the coming year,
music under the timbers and leaves’ greenery
and the lightsome heart
leaping from jewel to jewel.