The Angelus

Poem: Elizabeth Shane

Music 2003 Gordon Bok, BMI

 

Elizabeth Shane (1877-1951) was a poet from Donegal who knew her land and her waters well. This poem has the feel of a lot of the country-folk I've met in my visits to Ireland. "Turf" is peat, dug up in the bogs and dried in stacks, for fuel.

 

Gordon Spanish guitar

 

Mary and Manus are working the turf together

Old they are, the two of them, old and grey

Over the bog the sea-wind sings in the heather

Night clouds lie on the hilltops, far away

 

They will have comfort now when the nights are colder

They will have turf, aye, plenty of turf to spare

Light she steps with the heavy creel on her shoulder

Load on load for the stack that is building there

 

Now there is a deeper note than the sea-wind's singing

Soft it comes, on the breath of the dying day

Down in the hollow the bell from the chapel is ringing

And Mary and Manus stand for a minute and pray

 

Soft and low on the air each long note lingers

Quietly bending their old, grey heads they stand

Making the holy sign with work-worn fingers

Wrapped in the sudden peace that has blessed the land

 

Is it the light of heaven on the wide sea breaking

Spreading its glory out like a golden rain

And with the light of the world in their eyes a-waking

Mary and Manus are working the turf again

 

 

The Angelus is recorded on the album In Concert