I was looking across old newspapers, last year, when I came across this old poem about the River Bann. I’d saved it, but never got around to putting it on the website. It’s a tad unusual, in that nearly all of the Bann-related poems encountered to date, tend to be from further down the river (i.e. the villages south of Coleraine).
But here was a delightful poem from August 1881, from (one imagines) a Coleraine person. It references the Coleraine areas of Mountsandel and Ballycairn….as well as the woods on both sides of the famous old river. Imagery from an earlier era. I hope that it lifts your spirits.
ON THE BANN
On every side a wondrous wood,
With circling clouds of birds in air;
And here Mountsandel’s fortress stood,
And Ballycairn’s old watch-tower there;
And in, between, a river clear,
No turgid stream, but firm and free,
Like the march of men who know not fear,
The Bann flows, silvery, to the sea.
A “silver streak,” whose ample breast,
Stormless and peaceful, hath no care,
Save for the few sails now at rest,
Which, from afar, are gathered there,—
From off the far horizon’s wings,
From off the wide and weary main,
Like some erratic, long-lost things,
Enclasped in a fond, guardian chain!
And on each side a peaceful plain.
With scattered haunts of busy life,
Besmeared with no foul, shameful stain,
Or darksome deed of coward strife;
With waving grove, and fruitful field,
Where Wrong is not adjudged as Right,
And stubborn breasts that will not yield
When Freedom fights her final fight!
O lovely River! far below,
Thou flowest on in thy career,
Unheeding fretful bubbles,
Dost deem the far off sea but near;
So teach the struggling hearts upon
Thy verdant banks that, firm and time,
Unheeding passing trifles, they
Will reach the goal, at length, like you!
R. S. Coleraine, 10th August, 1881
Saturday 13 August 1881
Newspaper: Coleraine Chronicle