‘… Let Us Hear The Purple Glens Replying’

This poetry/music choice was inspired by a weekend ambling the by-roads of the west and observing the remains of ancient structures, cottages and castles of a bygone age.  Buttercups, foxgloves and daisies lined the roads, way-marked by white-thorn, alder and rowan trees that gave rise to the great hills and mountains of the Maamturks, carpeted with purple heathers and grasses. I also walked part of The Western Way, a 179 km old pilgrimage route that begins in county Galway and ends in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo.  So the enduring themes of tradition, heritage, ancestry and legacy became all the more comprehensible when I visited the sixteenth century Aughnanure Castle on the shores of Lough Corrib.  The fairly well preserved castle, which translates as Field of the Yews, was built for defensive purposes by the ferocious O’Flaherty clan of Galway and forms part of the backdrop for the 2012 amateur production by Cast Iron Films, No Eye To Pity Her, a portrayal of the Cromwellian occupation of Ireland starring my brother Paul! (trailer here)
Born in Lincolnshire in 1809, Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of the most popular poets in the English language. Among his major poetic achievements are the elegy mourning the death of his friend Arthur Hallam, In Memoriam (1850) and the patriotic poem Charge of the Light Brigade published in Maud (1855).  Tennyson died in 1892 and was buried in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. This is:
from The Princess: The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The splendour falls on castle walls
                And snowy summits old in story:
         The long light shakes across the lakes,
                And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
         O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
                And thinner, clearer, farther going!
         O sweet and far from cliff and scar
                The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
         O love, they die in yon rich sky,
                They faint on hill or field or river:
         Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
                And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

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