This poem by the Irish poet W.R.Rodgers (1909-1969), about how landscapes, or just odd scraps of landscape, can be numinous for us makes an interesting comparison with Patrick Kavanagh’s poem ‘Innocence’ and his love for ‘The triangular hill that hung/Under the Big Forth’ – see week 10. My own numinous field, the wheatfield that started at the bottom of my garden when I was a child, was not triangular but a great rectangle that dipped and then curved up to a line of woodland. Last time I went back they were building a new housing estate on it. Well, people need places to live, but they also need places to live.
The old farmer, nearing death, asked
To be carried outside and set down
Where he could see a certain field
‘And then I will cry my heart out’, he said.
It troubles me, thinking about that man;
What shape was the field of his crying In Donegal?
I remember a small field in Down, a field
Within fields, shaped like a triangle.
I could have stood there and looked at it
All day long.
And I remember crossing the frontier between
France and Spain at a forbidden point, and seeing
A small triangular field in Spain,
Or walking in Ireland down any rutted by-road
To where it hit the high-way, there was always
At this turning point and abutment
A still centre, a V-shape of grass
Untouched by cornering traffic.
Where country lads larked at night.
I think I know what the shape of the field was
That made the old man weep.