Sunday Treat – “Marvelous” is A Matter of Perspective

sundae2When we were in Ireland, one of our stops was the monastery of Clonmacnoise, founded in 548 by St. Kieran on the banks of the River Shannon. Some 71 miles west of Dublin, the settlement became a major center of religion, learning, trade, and craftsmanship, as well as the focus of intense political and military competition for its control. It survived 1,000 years of raids and invasions but finally ceased functioning in 1522 after yet another attack. Today, there are extensive ruins on the site, including some beautiful celtic crosses dating from 800 A.D.

Ruins of a Norman castle at Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise is also the setting for one of the most beloved poems by 1995 Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heany, “Lightenings VIII”:

“The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
Were all at prayers inside the oratory
A ship appeared above them in the air.

The anchor dragged along behind so deep
It hooked itself into the altar rails
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,

A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
And struggled to release it. But in vain.
‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown,’

The abbot said, ‘unless we help him.’ So
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
Out of the marvellous as he had known it.”

Which is truly the miraculous: above or below? Or is it in the eye of the beholder?

This stunning animation by Eoghan Kidney helps you visualize this dual conception of the miraculous:

Lightenings viii Interpretation from Eoghan Kidney on Vimeo.


About rhapsodyinbooks

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12 Responses to Sunday Treat – “Marvelous” is A Matter of Perspective

  1. Sandy says:

    I say this whole post is marvelous. I would love to have seen these ruins.

  2. Lisa says:

    How interesting to find this poem that ties back to your trip. Really a great way to visualize the poem.

  3. I bet traveling with you is a real treat – I’d learn so much!

  4. Jenners says:

    That looks like such a typical Ireland photo. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t at the same place but I have photos that looks almost just like that! The poem is great!

  5. I would love to see this in person!!! Make sure to stop by and grab me next time you go!

  6. Visiting the “ruins” such as these would be such a thrill. Very cool about the poem.

  7. Oh, I love Clonmacnoise…it is a magical place.

  8. zibilee says:

    I would love to visit there some day. It sounds like it would be a perfect vacation. The poem was wonderful as well.

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    Ireland’s on my bucket list!

  10. Ti says:

    My husband loves this stuff.

  11. It’s amazing to think about how much history those old buildings/ruins have seen.

  12. bookingmama says:

    I am so jealous! I would love to see that kind of history!

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