Monday, June 30, 2014

"Belderg" - by Seamus Heaney

The essence of the Belderrig ('Belderg') landscape was captured by Seamus Heaney in a poem accompanying a thank-you letter shortly after a visit to Patrick Caulfield's (Seamus's father's) house in 1974.

They just kept 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-piles 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 patterings
Repeated before our eyes
In the stone walls of Mayo
Before I turn to go

He talked about persistance,
A congurence 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
And make bawn an English fort,
A planter's walled-in mound
From "Belderg" by Seamus Heaney 1975

Seamus Caulfield demonstrates turf cutting in Belderrig

Seamus shows the students the quern stones (referred to in the poem above!) used for grinding wheat

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