Deep Ulster

It was there, the elemental center,   
All the time. Eternally present, repeating itself   
Like seasons, where the times and dates   
For swallows and household fires are written down,   

The grouse are counted, the quotas of stocked rainbows.   
All that love of order, for its own sake.   
Only the hill-farms, and the high sheep country   
Above politics—the enormous relief   

Up there, as the dialect names of skies   
Return, along with their clouds, and the old knowledge   
Opens the mind again. To dream, to just potter   
In the yard, to fiddle with local stations   

In the kitchen, where news that is no news   
Finally, at last, fills up the years   
With pure existence. Lit from beneath   
The fields are evenings long, the tree by the house   

Where Vladimir and Estragon kept vigil   
With the stillness of commando and insurgent   
Frightens no one. Slow through the air   
A heron, shouldering aside the weight of the world,   

Is making for its colonies, coevals   
In a state plantation . . .   
                                  Nowhere but here   
In the high right hand of Ireland, do the weather fronts   
Give way so slowly, to such ambivalent light.

More Poems by Harry Clifton