The end of November and you would think that all the wildlife has vanished from the landscape , however you only need to take an early morning walk to realize that there are lots of wild creatures still around.
This morning on a walk through the hills near Kilmoganny, county Kilkenny, I was accompanied by this little Robin who hopped from tree to tree in front of me 🙂
Here is a little folklore about the Robin from an Irish point of view …….
If the soul and symbol of the old sun and the Oak King was the Wren, the Robin represented the new sun. The wren was said to hide in the Ivy, the Robin in the Holly. The Pagan Neolithic Festival of the birth of the new sun, symbolized by the Robin, was at the Winter Solstice (21st December). The Robin (the new sun) killed his father the Wren (the old sun) and that is how he got his red breast, ie, from the blood of his father. A Robin coming into a house was supposed to be a sign that someone was going to die there in the near future. Despite this association with death, the Robin was praised for being the only bird capable of singing all the notes of the musical scale. And furthermore, the Robin can sing for half an hour without repeating the melody, unlike the other birds.
River has a silver string that runs its length,
holds it to a source in the mountains.
River cradles its corded muscles of water
between high banks, giving the banks no thought
as it bites them with eddies,
eroding their lower flanks.
River thinks it is only water and the gristle
of currents, hay stacking surfaces
and deep, bellowing falls
running for the sea, though
it does not know it is there.
River should take more care of its banks.
Banks are what hold it a river, give
direction, keep it mitering downward.
Without banks, river loses its way,
becomes a swamp and stills.
All my life I have chafed at river banks,
fighting to spread my currents
in whatever turn needed exploring.
The high song of freedom seemed
to be a music of ‘no banks’,
and yet the whole joy of rivers is pushing,
etching the banks to join the flow,
but having them hold.
The Little Ghost, A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high — higher than most —
And the green gate was locked.
And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone —
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.
By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown’s white folds among.
I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do — and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!
She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled — there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.
The last two days here in Ireland have brought the first Snow of this winter. The local Mountains including Slievenamon have been covered at the highest levels and its a great sight to wake-up to.
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats , was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.
Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre In Dublin , where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured, for what the Nobel Committee described as –
“inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.”
Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). Yeats was a very good friend of American expatriate poet and Bollingen Prize laureate Ezra Pound. Yeats wrote the introduction for Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, which was published by the India Society,
Drumcliff, a village in County Sligo is the final resting place of the poet W. B. Yeats (1865–1939), the village is on a hillside ridge between the mountain of Ben Bulben and Drumcliff bay. On visiting its is a great resting place for this Irish poet and artist, considering that his last Poem was about this great Irish Mountain.
William Butler Yeats
Last Poems and Two Plays, 1939
Swear by what the sages spoke
Round the Mareotic Lake
That the Witch of Atlas knew,
Spoke and set the cocks a-crow.
Swear by those horsemen, by those women
Complexion and form prove superhuman,
That pale, long-visaged company
That air in immortality
Completeness of their passions won;
Now they ride the wintry dawn
Where Ben Bulben sets the scene.
Here’s the gist of what they mean.
Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knocks him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-digger’s toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong,
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.
You that Mitchel’s prayer have heard,
“Send war in our time, O Lord!”
Know that when all words are said
And a man is fighting mad,
Something drops from eyes long blind,
He completes his partial mind,
For an instant stands at ease,
Laughs aloud, his heart at peace.
Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence
Before he can accomplish fate,
Know his work or choose his mate.
Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did,
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.
Measurement began our might:
Forms a stark Egyptian thought,
Forms that gentler Phidias wrought,
Michael Angelo left a proof
On the Sistine Chapel roof,
Where but half-awakened Adam
Can disturb globe-trotting Madam
Till her bowels are in heat,
Proof that there’s a purpose set
Before the secret working mind:
Profane perfection of mankind.
Quattrocento put in print
On backgrounds for a God or Saint
Gardens where a soul’s at ease;
Where everything that meets the eye,
Flowers and grass and cloudless sky,
Resemble forms that are or seem
When sleepers wake and yet still dream,
And when it’s vanished still declare,
With only bed and bedstead there,
That heavens had opened.
Gyres run on;
When that greater dream had gone
Calvert and Wilson, Blake and Claude,
Prepared a rest for the people of God,
Palmer’s phrase, but after that
Confusion fell upon our thought.
Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers’ randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.
Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
The Irish Landscape offers some of the most wonderful views in this part of Europe, with rolling mountains and rocky, spectacular coastlines, there are many forests and powerful flowing rivers.
One of the area’s of photography I love the most is black and white and I feel that the Irish landscape is made for black and white images, often the days are wet and stormy and dark. I feel that shooting images in black and white captures these atmospheric days very well. On good weather days in the summer months getting out early or late to capture the sun low in the sky also works very well in a black and white photograph.
Below are some of the black and white images I am most happy with, so far during 2014.
Irish landscape photography – Black and White Gallery
Sunset on the River
Jan Weeratunga, South Africa
Reds, pinks, oranges and gold’s catch the edge of the clouds and slowly turn the evening sky into a canvas waiting to be painted.
The sun’s last ray’s bounce off the cloud’s lining as it sinks gradually beyond the horizon.
Playfully the rays dance off the shimmering surface of the river,
Another fish jumps from the water,
Sending a concertina of ripples to the riverbank’s shoreline.
Golden waves approach as the setting sun sinks slowly below the horizon,
And small waves lap the side of our boat in an unending regular rhythm.
The repetitive knocking of the fender against the hull takes on the beat of the river,
Tapping the boat and shoreline alike,
It’s constant rhythm disturbed only by the wake of a passing boat or water bird landing on its surface.
Crickets join in with their own percussion as the melody is taken up by the surrounding birdlife,
Each chorus, their evening song as they head along the river bank in search of their nights roost.
Insects buzz over the surface, darting this way and that,
As swallows swoop swiftly, snapping them up in their gaping beaks.
Against the Western horizon a kingfisher dives into calmer waters bathed in a glorious warm orange light.
To the East the night’s first star is born,
It shimmers and shivers into life,
Just as the river serenely falls to sleep.
Peace is coming to the river as the ‘time between times’ –
That suspended few minutes of sunset –
Links all things in this world in a glorious golden moment before darkness descends.
Gradually the river slips into sleep
And the moon begins to rise and perform her dance across the waters glassy surface;
Replacing her brothers golden rays with her own silver ones.
Silver shimmering light bathes all beneath it,
Only disturbed by an occasional fish breaking free of its watery surrounds,
To be touched and blessed by the moonlight,
Before diving back down to the river bed.
The moon arches across the night sky,
Playing with the stars,
Until her brothers warming rays tell her it is once again time to allow the miracle of night and day to exchange places.
On a very enjoyable visit, I managed to Capture these Herons during a spring time visit to Galway Bay. At this time of year the Local Herons are hunting along the coast line for fish and getting ready to nest build in the spring.
To get these images I stood under some trees along side a beach and captured them as they flew above me.
The Herons flight : Gallery