Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"A world-tree of balanced stones"

The world-tree is of course the Norse Yggdrasill Tree

Today it is just about words, how they flow when we come across them.  Why Heaney's Belderg? it just happens to pop up quite a lot in my visitor's counter.  It is almost as if Heaney is dreaming of that world beneath the turf, I see history as a book lying on the landscape, you can turn the pages, going deeper into the soil and find a 'happening'.  Sometimes people say that there is not an inch of land that has not been walked on in the past.  The 'peacefulness' of the present moment is not really a truth, if time was many times running parallel, you would feel the busyness of the world's continuous existence around you.
The first set of words below I found somewhere, no author to ascribe them to sadly.  We are always trying to find the second world, never quite getting there, there are some who say they have achieved it, maybe they have.  It has a certain Celtic ring to it, we are unhappy with our first world and so create a second world to dream in, but is it deeper?

"The idea that there are two worlds, or two rivers is found in many spiritual traditions. The first, is the world of our day-to-day functioning with all its dogs of commentaries, opinions, ideas as well as the emotions that move through us like the weather. The second world is completely different. It’s related to silence and seems composed of an entirely different order. This second world is always beckoning to us, but it is hidden behind the veil of the first world."

Rain falling on a temple - Korea


Belderg by Seamus Heaney
'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.

Roy's Chief sitting below the Tor at Stowe Pound


  1. Interesting post Thelma. I am not sure that I understand that Heaney poem - it would need a lot of work doing to get to the depths of it. But I always feel as I walk our fields, and walk in our village, (both things now curtailed by my lack of mobility) that there is a sense of who has been there before. We find ancient onjects in our fields, we handle them and I think that maybe no one has handled them since the day they fell there - for example our 3000BC axe head. The continuity of life is so fascinating.

    1. Hi Pat, Heaney did an archaeological course at university, so that is why he writes about the past in such a way. This poem I copied from a book from the library called 'North'. there are several I managed to copy all beautifully structured.

  2. Seamus Heaney's poem is constructed around the Céide Fields in North Mayo, which are the oldest known field systems in the world, over five and a half millennia old they are a unique Neolithic landscape of world importance.
    Quern stones used for grinding grains of wheat.

    1. I did not know that about the Ceide Fields, old field systems are a relic of the past, there are some on St.David's Head in Pembrokshire.