Patrick Kavanagh

Shanco Dubh

My black hills have never seen the sun rising
Eternally they look north towards Armagh
Lot's wife would not be salt if she had been
Incurious as my black hills that are happy
When dawn whitens Glassdrummond chapel

My hills hoard the bright shillings of March
Till the sun searches the last pocket
They are my Alps and I have climbed the Matterhorn
With a sheaf of hay for the cattle many a time.

My hills have never seen the sun rising
With the faith of illiterate peasants they await
The final resurrection when all hills
Will face the East.

The sleety winds fondle the rusty beards of Shanco Dubh
While the cattle-smugglers sheltering in Featherna Bush
Look up and say:
   Who owns them hungry hills
   That the water-hen and snipe must have foresaken?
   A Poet? Then by heavens he must be lean…
I hear and is my faith not somewhat shaken?
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