Sunday, March 22, 2015

'Saint Fursey's Song' by Kerry Hardie

I was reminded today of a poem I happened upon by chance some five years ago in the small meeting house library at the Cill Rialaig artist residency in Ballinskelligs, County Kerry. I wanted to share this with you all. The poem is 'Saint Fursey's Song' written by Kerry Hardie in which St. Fursey speaks to his brothers, St Ultan and St Foillan.

'Come, brothers,
we are free now, let us live freely,
the rose and the fire in our hearts.

Let us not worry our heads over rightness or wrongness,
nor fret about goodness,
but sing like the birds in the trees.

And we will go wandering, following the light,
we will speak where we will, and sleep where we will,
and take no more care than the lilies in His book.

I made enquiries of the olive-skinned young man,
he who studies under Cumian
and comes from a place he calls Lebanon;

he tells me these lilies spring up like our orchids fair and careless and singing with colour
and we three will be like them and will walk

with easy steps even in the darkest, most fearsome of places,
and certainly we will fear,
But underneath our fear we will be fearless,

So let us take up our ash -plants and be off,
and you, Ultan, bring that pup if you cannot leave her,
she will lift up your heart when your feet are sore,

she may even bring us a bird for the pot but I doubt it,
I think she is not of the stuff of great hunters.
And you, Foillan, tell your crow to follow after,

and sometimes to go before us to show us the way,
for he is a ruffianly bird, full of appetite
and hard sense,
and it's well that men like us be watched for by such as him.

Now farewell, Ireland, Loveliest of all earth's lands.
we may never more see you with human eyes,
but know that we will always have sight of you in our hearts.

And farewell to all who dwell in this land,
do not fear for us, for our souls are safe,
and what are our bodies but little sod houses

putting shelter round fire and round love?
What harm then if the house should crumble?
Fire and love cannot crumble,
fire and love will burn always
in one house or another
lighting windows in the darkest light.


Below a photo from inside the Cill Rialaig artist residency meeting house in Ballinskelligs, County Kerry.

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