Sunday, July 08, 2012

Monks have always fascinated me.

Skellig

Loreena McKennitt

O light the candle, John
The daylight has almost gone
The birds have sung their last
The bells call all to mass

Sit here by my side
For the night is very long
There's something I must tell
Before I pass along

I joined the brotherhood
My books were all to me
I scribed the words of God
And much of history

Many a year was I
Perched out upon the sea
The waves would wash my tears,
The wind, my memory

I'd hear the ocean breathe
Exhale upon the shore
I knew the tempest's blood
Its wrath I would endure

And so the years went by
Within my rocky cell
With only a mouse or bird
My friend; I loved them well

And so it came to pass
I'd come here to Romani
And many a year it took
Till I arrived here with thee

On dusty roads I walked
And over mountains high
Through rivers running deep
Beneath the endless sky

Beneath these jasmine flowers
Amidst these cypress trees
I give you now my books
And all their mysteries

Now take the hourglass
And turn it on its head
For when the sands are still
'Tis then you'll find me dead

O light the candle, John
The daylight is almost gone
The birds have sung their last
The bells call all to mass


Loreena McKennitt's song relays the dying words of a monk from the monastery on Skellig Michael, or Great Skellig, an island west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. The monastery on Skellig Michael survived a number of Viking raids in the 9th century, notably in 823, was later significantly expanded, with a new chapel built around the start of the second millennium. The community at Skellig Michael was apparently never large - probably about 12 monks and an abbot. Some time in the 12th century the monks abandoned the Skellig and moved to the Augustinian Monastery at Ballinskelligs on the mainland.
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