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Three Poets Named Robert

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A few years back, I delved into Jean Auel's books on the Earth Children. Her description of the lands and the seasons heightened my sense of the world around me. Then I read the journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, which again gave me a deeper appreciation and communion with nature.

I now realize what I was born in the midst of, a 200 acre farm of fields, woodlands and more, was indeed a festival of nature. When home from teaching one summer, my Aunt Katherine catalogued every plant that grew on that farm. The beauty of those fields and brooks is still with me, perhaps because the folks that bought it from my father made me welcome to prowl anywhere on the property I wished. Though my parents died in my youth, I could always go home again.

The fields, the brooks, the woods, their delight in all seasons is fresh in my mind. I often think of it, here in the city. As I sit and type this, autumn leaves are on the trees there, the brooks are the same, their constant waters flowing and rippling beneath that splendour. Today the sun shone brightly on those fields; in my mind, I can see it -- and still enjoy it. In my mind, I can still go home again.

The celtic tradition is rich in mind travel, a technique now taught in stress management courses. I go back, and feel the rain on the fields, see the autumn colour of the trees shading our three brooks as the water flows beneath them, delight in the unbroken white fields of snow and the snow on the evergreens (of such paintings and postcards are made), and feel my spirit come alive as bright sunshine falls on the same fields and filters through the tree-tops in the forest.

Back in the city, let there be a soft autumn rain, a fierce driving rain, even a hurricane, and I am out in it. My father was the same, and I think his parents before him on our family homestead of more than a century.

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Three poets wrote poems that speak to my soul; each poet was named Robert; each poet wrote of his love for nature.

{*} When first in Halifax, I rented a room in a private home. Their young daughter, then about 10 years, enjoyed visiting me in the evenings. We played chess, we worked on our stamp collections, and we read the poetry of Rabbie Burns together. She would come in and take my father's book of Burns' poetry poetry off my bookcase shelves, and spend an hour or two poring over them.

{*} Forty-four years before the birth of Scots poet, Rabbie Burns, there was born in Balnakeil, near the northern shores of Scotland, an infant named Robb Donn Mackay. This young lad grew and composed poetry in Gaelic of similar nature to that of Burns in the English of his time, with as much or greater skill at his craft. Both told of the plight and intrique of every day folks as they lived their days. In September 1992, with others of Clan MacKay, I visited the grave of Robb Donn Mackay in the churchyard at Balnakeil.

{*} Among my readings (my walls are lined with 22 bookcases), I particularly enjoy the poems of New England poet, Robert Frost. To me, he is the New England counterpart of Rob Donn Mackay and Rabbie Burns. Robert Frost writes of nature in his farmlands in New England, where many Ulster Scots sojourned before relocating to Nova Scotia in the mid 1760s.

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Janet MacKay, B.R.E., B.Sc.
Freelance Writer/Photographer
Principal, MacKay Research Associates

{*} [MacKay Hall] {*} [Heritage Hall] {*} [Copyright (C) 1996] {*}



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