John McCullagh October 27, 2007
RockyField.jpg

Ballymacdermot –
In the evening sun,
Where jigsaw fields and confidential cottages
Are illustrated pages of local history.


And high upon the ancient burial hill,
Deep in the forest still,
The blackbird sings his melancholy song –
For it was always thus.

Five fields below,
Sketched upon the landscape,
A timeless figure
Whistles cryptic orders to a crouching collie,
And reluctant sheep are conjured
Through an insect-buzzing hedge.

And high upon the ancient burial hill,
Deep in the forest still,
The blackbird sings his melancholy song –
For it was always thus.

A brush-stroke farm-hand
With twirling blackthorn stick
Persuades a herd of loitering cattle home.

Two nodding horses,
One bay, the other roan,
Meditate alone beside a five barred gate.

A robin, dab of flame, alights
Upon a lichened granite stone,
Grabs his prey and,
Glancing upwards,
Is gone.

And high upon the ancient burial hill,
Deep in the forest still,
The blackbird sings his melancholy song –
For it was always thus.

As Eileen bends to scoop
Her last stoup of water
From the immemorial well,
A distant dog is barking
Out of habit.

And three thousand miles away
Upon a crowded quay
Another emigrant sheds
A fleeting homeward tear.

Along the hawthorn blossoming loanin
The cobwebbed windows and rusted hinges
Of a long abandoned homestead
Hint at the vanished life within
Where gnawing hunger failed to kill
The native smile,
That soon took root in other soil.

Amongst the heather, gorse and bracken
Of Ballymacdermot mountain
An unseen presence ponders
And is gone.

And high upon the ancient burial hill,
Deep in the forest still,
The blackbird sings his melancholy song –
For it was always thus.

 

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