An extract from What is a Mountain

If pattern and order are artificial concepts the mind imposes on the unknowable given, then so is chaos.

Of course, identity is a construct, but it is also a process. To state baldly that national identity is a product of the 18th and 19th centuries is to confuse nation with nation-state. Or should we say to that unknown poet who wrote, about 600 years ago, ‘Ich am of Irlond’, sorry mate, you’re wrong, you’ll have to wait for the emergence of national self-consciousness?

Nationality, not nationalism: the latter an ideology slow to take hold in a country long influenced by the decentralised nature of Gaelic society, but inevitably fostered by the colonial experience.

A process unfolding over at least 5000 years. Flexible and absorptive; not the Celtic cliché of the official mythos, but an organic thing: shifting, changeable and real. Not essence but accidents. There are things we can know, but cannot explain.

(From one of the three prose sections of What is a Mountain that were omitted from Lares/Manes: Collected Poems. A few copies of the original Japanese-style hand-sewn first edition remain available from hardPressed poetry.)


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