The reliance of humans on nature has suffered from the rise
of modern religion. The disappearance of deities of the earth and our own elevation
into the realms of being made in God’s image has stunted our regard for the rest
of nature; nature in the service of man has blinded us to our reliance on it. Ancient
societies (and not so ancient, but always disdained for their ‘backwardness’)
understood the interdependence very well. Our global and daily desecration of
the environment would have been seen as criminal under a different belief
system. This poem by Thomas Hardy catches our oneness with nature
Here is Annie Laurie from Seamus Begley’s
new album, The Bold Kerryman. What a beautiful voice he has.
The song is based, in all likelihood, on a poem written by William Douglas (1672 - 1748), with amendments in the 1850's by Alicia Scott, (Lady John Scott), who set it to music.
Douglas wrote the poem for his sweetheart, Annie. But Robert Laurie, Annie's father, was not in favour of the romance leading anywhere, owing to her young age and Douglas's political views. He, a soldier, was later exiled for his Jacobite allegiances.
Given the beautiful melancholic atmosphere of Begley's rendition, it would be nice to conclude this piece by describing how she died of a broken heart, and he lived out his life in total dejection, till eventually they were buried side by side near Maxwelton brae. In fact, they both found marriage partners and lived long lives. And, well, sorry.........................................maybe I've just ruined it.
"Maxwelton braes are bonnie Where early falls the dew And it was there that Annie Laurie Gave me her promise true
Gave me her promise true Which never forgot will be And for bonnie Annie Laurie I would lay me down and die.
Her brow is like the snowdrift Her neck is like the swans Her face it is the fairest That ever the sun shone on.
That ever the sun shone on And dark blue is her eye And for bonnie Annie Laurie I would lay me down and die.
Like dew on the gowan lying Is the fall of her fairy feet And like the winds in summer sighing Her voice is low and sweet.
Her voice is low and sweet And she's all the world to me And for bonnie Annie Laurie I'd lay me down and die"
This is Fore. It is one of the few places I know where a stone
building sits as comfortably into natural surroundings as
though it were a limestone outcrop. Fore is a place of outstanding beauty; the ruined Benedictine
abbey actually succeeds in drawing attention
to the peace and beauty of the valley around it. The immediate impact comes
from its lack of commercialization; it comes on the traveler as something
magical, something that rose from the green
fields beneath it. There was a time when Clonmacnoise had the same magic, but
poor and tasteless development put an end to that.
Consequently,(and not surprisingly), some magical myths
have grown up around Fore. Here are the 7 wonders of Fore: the monastery in the
bog, the mill without a race, the water that flows uphill, the tree that has
three branches/the tree that won’t burn, the water that won’t boil, the
anchorite in a stone and the stone/lintel raised by St Fechin’s prayers.