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(Photo: Scott Murray)

The verses below could be described as stages in life’s journey or aspects of the heart. The word ‘gnèthean’ in the title could be translated ‘kinds, types or natures’ but, of course, all the aspects could be found in one person at some stage in life. Briefly, the five stages or types of being are 1. sensual  2. rational 3. moral 4. intuitive  and  5. mystical.

The original is in Gaelic and, as always, when translating from one language to another, there are difficulties and differences. For example, the word ‘iomfhios’ in verse 4  is translated as ‘intuition’, but ‘iomfhios’ is a special form of intuition. ‘Fios’ is knowledge and ‘iom’ is an intensifying prefix meaning  ‘much, many, complete’. So this kind of intuition is not just one hunch but thousands of hunches from different areas of knowledge and experience which combine to give one conviction that goes beyond the first three aspects.

The fifth and final stage goes  beyond even intuition, and probably beyond its expression in language. ‘Dìomhair’ means ‘secret, hidden, mysterious’ but ‘hidden’ only vaguely hints at one aspect of an encounter with the Being beyond thought.  

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(Photo: Scott Murray)

Na Còig Gnèthean

Is mise am feòlmhor, air mo shlìobadh le miann,

itealag dhian, suas is sìos anns an stoirm;

chan fhaigh mi air falbh bho làmh ìseal an dìobhaill.


Is mise an reusanta, a dh’fheumas bhith caomh;

tha an saoghal ag iarraidh nach strìochd sinn dhan bhèist –

Cùm ris an riaghailt ’s bidh sonas leat is maoin.


Is mise am moralta, tha dleastanas sgrìobht’ air mo chàil;

tha iarrtas fo chuing, is grod leam ana-miann is aimhreit;

tha leabhar nan riaghailt a’ gleidheadh ar beatha bhon ghràisg.


Is mise mac an iomfhios, tha doimhneachd nam rèim;

mic is nigheanan Dhè sinn, is clann an deagh bheus;

feumar bhith umhail, le gràdh is urram dha chèil’.


Is mise an dìomhair, choinnich mi a’ Bhith th’ air cùl fèin;

tha fiamh is uamharr is àiteas nam shnuadh;

chunnaic is dh’fhairich mi slànachd nan reul.

(from Saoghal Ùr, diehard, 2003)

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(Photo: Scott Murray)

The Five Natures


I’m the sensual, stroked by desire,

 a fiercely moving kite, up and down in the storm;

I can’t escape from the devil’s low grasp.


I’m the reasonable, who must be gentle;

the world demands we don’t yield to the beast –

keep to the rules and you’ll be happy and wealthy.


I’m the moral, duty is etched on my desires;

appetite is controlled, I hate sensuality and discord;

the system of law preserves our life from the mob.


I’m intuition’s son, there’s depth to my course;

we’re the sons and daughters of God, the children of virtue;

we must be obedient, loving and honouring each other.


I’m the hidden, I’ve met the Being beyond self;

there is reverence and awe and joy in my face;

I’ve seen and felt the wholeness of the stars.

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(Photo: Scott Murray)