Monday, March 17, 2008

Healing Waters: Two Irish Thoughts

We can make our minds so like
still water that beings gather
about us to see, it may be,
their own images, and so live for a
moment with a clearer, perhaps even
with a fiercer life because of our

W. B. Yeats

An Tobar/The Well

"'Twill put a stir in you, and life,"
says old Bridget, spark in her eyes
proffering a bowl of spring-water
from the purest well in Gleann an Átha,
a well that was tended tastily
from generation to generation, the precious
heritage of the household
snugly sheltered in a nook,
a ditch around it for protection,
a flagstone on its mouth.

When I was growing up
here in the early 'sixties
there wasn't a house in the neighbourhood
without its like,
for everyone was proud then
of how wholesome and pure
they kept the family well:
they wouldn't let it become murky or slimy
and at the first traces of red-rust
it was bailed-out with a tin bucket
then purified every season with kiln-lime.

Lively, living water, pellucid spring-water
gushed forth from our family well.
In tin-cans and pitchers
they drew it daily
and in the devouring thirst
of sweltering summer
it slaked and cooled them
in field and bog.
It was a tonic, too,
that made them throb with delight
and for their ablutions
it served from cradle to grave.

But, this long time, piped water from distant hills
sneaks into every kitchen
on both sides of the glen;
water spurts from a tap,
mawkish, without sparkle,
zestless as slops
and among my people
the springwell is being forgotten.

"'Tis hard to find a well nowadays",
says Bridget filling the bowl again.
"They're hidden in rushes and grass,
choked by green scum and ferns,
but, despite the neglect,
they've lost none of their true mettle.
Seek out your own well, my dear,
for the age of want is near:
There will have to be a going back to sources."

Cathal Ó Searcaigh
translated from the Irish by Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, my friends.


Butch said...

. . .and to you, as well!


Cooper said...

... and to you, most dearest of all Patricks!

Butch said...

Is that mask the "River Liffy?" When I was in Ireland last, I purchased a few souvenir masks for friends and this one looks similiar.

Anonymous said...

Lovely. I hope your SPD was as lovely as your post.

dantallion said...

And a Happy (belated) St Paddy's to you too, Patrick!

Joe Jubinville said...

"our minds so like
still water... a going back to sources.

Yes, that.