Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Belderg

'They just keep turning up
And were thought of as foreign'-
One-eyed and benign,
They lie about his house,
Quernstones out of a bog.

To lift the lid of the peat
And find this pupil dreaming
Of neolithic wheat!
When he stripped off blanket bog
The soft-piled centuries

Fell open like a glib;
There were the first plough-marks,
The stone-age fields, the tomb
Corbelled, turfed and chambered,
Floored with dry turf-coomb.

A landscape fossilized,
Its stone wall patternings
Repeated before our eyes
In the stone walls of Mayo.
Before I turned to go

He talked about persistence,
A congruence of lives,
How stubbed and cleared of stones,
His home accrued growth rings
Of iron, flint and bronze.
So I talked of Mossbawn,

A bogland name 'but Moss'?,
He crossed my old home's music
With older strains of Norse.
I'd told how its foundation
Was mutable as sound

And how I could derive
A forked root from that ground,
Make bawn an English fort,
A planter's walled-in mound.

Or else find sanctuary
And think of it as Irish,
Persistent if outworn.
'But the Norse ring on your tree?'
I passed through the eye of the quern,

Grist to an ancient mill,
And in my mind's eye saw,
A world-tree of balanced stones,
Querns piles like vertebrae,
The marrow crushed to grounds.

Seamus Heaney 1975

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