Harp Song of the Dane Women – Rudyard Kipling

Sailing round the West coasts of Ireland puts me in mind of the way in which the sea remains capable of erasing much of the difference, much of the perceptible change between past and present. The sights and atmosphere of sailing between the Skelligs lit by starlight alone, blacker presences jaggedly anchoring the dimlit sea to the starlit sky, must surely be the as near the same now as anything could be to the perceptions of the early foreign sailors along these wild coasts. Much of Ireland was colonised by the Vikings, called the “Danes” in this verse by Kipling, and last night’s passage put me in mind of their still echoing presence, and of this poem which echoes to me from the early reaches of my own childhood.

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