The Burren is an astonishing landscape in County Clare, in the West of Ireland. Studies show that woodlands once were present here along with a thin layer of top soil that was worn away by glaciation and erosion. Appearing at first glance like a barren moonscape, the mild climate supports Artic-alpine and Mediterranean Basin plants side-by-side with many rare Irish species. The Burren has one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland.
The limestone pavement, as it is called, makes for some tricky hiking if you happen to be in the company of intrepid Irishmen, which I was in 2012. Erosion has created deep crevices that are hidden by the rich grass. Not for the faint of heart or unsure of foot, as I discovered.
When I do poetry readings, this poem is one of the most popular.
In Relation to Silence
You’ve never heard a thing
Till you’ve stopped on a mountain
That’s all cracks and hollows
And listened to the sound
Of your own suspicion
That you would not find your way.
You’ve never listened in your life
Like you did today—
Desperate for a prompting,
A sign of the passage through,
Only to stumble into the miracle
Of a fellow traveler’s helping hand.
Your well-tuned heart
Brought you to this place.
Now listen for a new song
Playing in the silence
Of unpeopled landscape,
And know yourself as eternally
Minded by the immensity
Of your own life.