Clochán an Aifir
by Robert Lima
Up north, abiding by the Irish-Scottish Sea of Moyle
on long-stretched land that’s curved along a cove,
the tides pay homage to huge basaltic stones on land
that form a roadway from the cliffs into the sea,
their multi-side hexagons and other varied shapes,
having a dark sheen, brilliant with the water’s wash.
Ancient surges of a violent earth caused craggy fissures,
thrusting giant basalt columns which became a causeway
of conjoined stones that, ponderous, step to and from the sea.
Their hand-hewn look has given rise to mythic lore that one,
the Finnian giant Finn Mac Cool, shaped the unique blocks
to step across the straits between his land and that of Scots.
On climbing to twelve meters height, perhaps the giant’s size,
I see the shores of Scotland, beheld in yore by Mac Cumhaill,
and to the north, the islands of the Hebrides he never reached
because the Giant’s Causeway falls away to such a depth of sea
that even one of such heroic size as he could not surmount.
The black basaltic columns ever stand a monument to Finn.
PHOTO: The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland. Photo by A. Quinn.
NOTE: The Giant’s Causeway (Clochán an Aifir) is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides.The tallest are about 39-feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 92-feet thick in places. The columns were formed by the rapid cooling of lava from an underwater volcano upon contact with the sea, or as some may say created by the legendary mythical Irish Giant Finn MacCool. In some tales, the giant is 54-feet tall and he used the Causeway as stepping stones to the Scottish Coast.
PHOTO: The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland. Photo by Paul Hampshire.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In Northern Ireland, during the summer of 2003, we spent a full day at the Giant’s Causeway—so-called because folk tradition has it that the giant Finn MacCool made the amazing colonnade of basaltic stones. In the photo taken by my wife, I’m atop the 39-foot height of the causeway. There are 40,000 of these stones—mostly hexagonal—along the large expanse that is a UNESCO site.
PHOTO: The author atop the high point of the Causeway. Photo by Sally M. Lima.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Lima is a Cuban-born award-winning poet, and an internationally recognized critic, bibliographer, playwright, and translator. As a Greenwich Village poet during the 1960s, he read at coffeehouses and other venues, co-edited Seventh Street: Poems of Les Deux Megots, introduced by Denise Levertov, and the second series of Judson Review. His 16 poetry collections include Tracking the Minotaur, The Rites of Stone, Celestials, Elementals, Self, Sardinia/Sardegna, Ikons of the Past. Poetry of the Hispanic Americas and Writers on My Watch, and Odyssey (2021). Over 600 of his poems have appeared in print in the U.S. and abroad. Eleven of his poems have just appeared in Greek translation in Noima Magazine. Among his numerous critical studies are works on García Lorca, Valle-Inclán, Borges, Surrealism, folklore, dramatic literature, and translations of plays and poetry. He was invited and read his poetry for the archives at the Hispanic Division of The Library of Congress.