Famine road in County Galway, Ireland
It is interesting to see other points of view, not simply for all the usual reasons, but because they end up placing common sights within an entirely new context. That fact has been on my mind this week for a number of reasons, contrasted with navigating between cities using directions spat out from a computer.
Looking out my window, I wonder what has happened beneath, what is forgotten in the piles of structured stones now breathing slowly in the half-snow. There are some views that will never be mapped. Eavan Boland has the heart of the matter here:
-and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses
is what I wish to prove.
When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.
Look down you said: this was once a famine road.
I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in
1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.
Where they died, there the road ended
and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of
the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that
the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon
will not be there.