The Road to Drumcliffe

The Road to Drumcliffe – watercolor – 12 x 20 inches.

“Drink and carouse with Bacchus or munch dry bread with Jesus, but don’t sit down without one of the gods.”
— D.H. Lawrence

Most roads in the west of Ireland were designed for wagons and carts. If this watercolor were accurate, the car ahead of us would not exist, but instead, a flock of sheep. The composition needed a shape in the middle distance and a sedan seemed easier to draw than animals. High winds from the Atlantic and lonely landscapes are ever present here in this enchanted water-land of fens, brooks, ponds, rivers, lakes and bogs, and so are radiant greens, which I seldom managed to capture with my brushes.

Three brothers were traveling to Drumcliffe in a rented Mercedes to pay our respects at the tomb of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). His grave lies among a dozen others in an old churchyard under leafy shade with the mysterious shadow of Ben Bulben, the great mountain, in the distance. Yeats’ simple headstone reads:

“Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by.”

Four horsemen passing: Patrick, Tim, myself and our mystical companion, unseen but always present, the guide and protector of travelers, called Hermes by the old Greeks. Needless to say, he was excellent company during our travels.

The road out of Drumcliffe winds south along the windy coast. We had no destination in particular, just some fishing village or other where, at a pub, the locals would suggest a welcome place to spend the night, or perhaps a couple of days. Patience, Curiosity, and Gratitude are essential on Drumcliffe Road because the Road leads to everywhere: to Rome, to Mecca, even to Home. Even to “the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns . . . “

One thought to “The Road to Drumcliffe”

  1. You’ve gotten the greens quite right, I think. And the fence. If there were no fence I imagine you would put one in. It’s a poignant touch. The human presence, affecting the natural surrounding but being affected by nature too (witness the post askew).

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