THE CALL OF THE WILD

This voice has called through ages – the pinnacle of wild nature

Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

The annual rut of the Irish red stag is now at its height.  Close-by our ‘Gallan Eile‘ holiday home the mountains reverberate to the wild bull-like bellow of the stags guarding their females and warning off any challenger.  The heart of the red stag territory is in the valley between Torc and Mangerton mountains, about an hour’s walk away.  Do not venture too close.  The blood is up.

As well the Sika buck’s triple whistle-like roar is most frequently heard on lower ground.  The Sika is smaller, much darker and has a flared white rump.

What better way to mark the red stag rut – that has sounded in these hills since the end of the Ice Age some 14,000 years ago – what better way to mark this annual ritual than with Paddy Bushe’s poem, which he kindly dedicated to me.

Listening to the Roaring of the Stags

for Frank Lewis

 

The sun is making love to winter in the glen

And a calling can be heard as it echoes here and there,

An imperious ululation that rolls from ben to ben.

 

Between us and the light, sharp as a blade’s edge,

See the seven-horned stag, etched deep into the air.

The sun is making love to the winter in the glen.

 

The elemental bodhrán grows more and more intense

As the piping of the birds becomes antiphonal prayer,

And an imperious ululation rolls from ben to ben.

 

The spear-wail of the Fianna lives on in branch and stem

With leaf and nut and berry in rampant display,

While the sun is making love to the winter in the glen.

 

The music of what happens is music without end

And a universal note now permeates the air,

An imperious ululation that rolls from ben to ben.

 

This voice has called through ages in story and in verse

And if we lose its echo, the loss will cost us dear.

The sun is making love to winter in the glen

And an imperious ululation rolls from ben to ben.

 

                                                   Killarney, October 2003

Paddy Bushe wrote the original version of this poem in Irish.  If you would like to have the Irish version (Ag Éisteacht le Dord na nDamh) let me know and I will email it on to you.

Frank Lewis

 

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