Sunday, 10 January 2016

Invocation to Iona

Dear Reader,

A dear friend of mine,  Margaret Douglas, a Welsh playwright, has introduced me to a Welsh word and its meaning which I find most interesting and hope you do too.  It is "hiraeth" which has no English translation but is often defined as a kind of homesickness, or memory tinged with grief or sadness. A mixture of longing, yearning or wistfulness for a place, person or memory of the past.  It is the language of the soul, the call from the inner self,  half forgotten.  It speaks from the rocks, from the earth, the trees, and in the waves, it is the call of the spiritual home.

I didn't know the word "hiraeth" when I went to Iona many years ago but on a beach where St. Columba had arrived in the year 563 I sat down and wept.  I couldn't understand what it was I was feeling or its intensity and have never felt anything like it again.  But Iona has a very special place
in my heart, so perhaps it was the home I felt I had never had, anywhere.


Invocation to Iona

"Iona, sacred island, mother,
I honour you,
who cradle the
bones of Scottish Kings,
who birthed coloured gemstones
to enchant bleached beaches,
who shelter puffins on your rocks.

I wrap myself in your history,
and knot the garments with
machair rope-grass.
In the Port of Coracle
your southern bay,
I hear the wind-blown cormorant's cry,
and draw a breath.
I see Columba's footsteps
in the sand, and weep.
Tears overflow,
I am spirit engulfed.

I ask you, Iona,
is this then, or now,
what is, or what has been?
Does the rolling salt sea-mist
cover the uncounted time between?"


Very best wishes, Patricia


Anonymous said...

This is one of your most beautiful and moving poems. And wonderful I am reading it by the sea, a very different sea, but remarkable nonetheless. Thank you. Xxx

Jessica said...

I agree. It is very moving and it reminds one of a deep connection one has with a special place, a beautiful spiritual connection and the timelessness of such places.

Eugenie said...

I love this word, and the poem. It reminds me of a Danish word, hygge, that has no translation either but is around the art of making oneself cosy and happy when all is miserable and dark and cold outside. I have a feeling it's something you're v good at!

Patrick said...

Oh my goodness Trish what a lovely poem, such depth, very moving indeed. Having been to Iona I understand what you felt, serenity, calmness, a sense of home. Keep writing! Lots of love Patrick x