The Rough Pillars of Shane's Hill

Stubborn, hard, rugged sentinels on the mountain road.
Unyielding and unlovely - yet with grandeur rare.
Defying time. Ignoring Nature's every fickle mood
The Rough Pillars stand silent and majestic there.

Friendless and lonely. Unsheltered from the winter blast,
They stand undaunted: unperturbed, nor do they flinch,
When hurricanes - like roaring giants - lock them in their grasp.
And fain would eagerly destroy them in a deathly clinch.

Through deep snows defiantly they hold their heads on high,
Adorned with white head-dress which Nature has designed,
With dangling icicles, like ribbons left untied ---.
Or likened to the plaits the schoolgirl loves to bind.

Then as if wearied by the pretence and the sham,
Of wearing frivolous Nature's fragile, unbecoming gown,
'Tis cast aside. And in their own dark sombre grandeur stand,
In majestic silhouette against the silvered ground.

The broiling, midday summer sun, with his volcanic breath,
Has mercilessly ceased the streams, the brooks, the burns to flow,
And doomed the frantic herds to thirst and agonising death,
And burned the carpet of the earth where herbage sweet should grow.

The sturdy Pillars stand erect: cool and dignified.
Their broad unyielding bodies throwing shadows on the ground.
Forming a cool oasis where frenzied flocks may hide,
Safe from the tortuous blazing sun that pours relentless down.

And in the misty greyness of an early morn in Spring,
The curlew swiftly wheels aloft, he spies the Pillars there.
Likewise the lark beholds them as he climbs the sky to sing,
A homely landmark from afar which guides him to his lair.

And when the nervous moon rides forth into the quiet night,
And all the flocks and herds and beasts and birds are crouched in sleep,
'Tis then the Pillars seem to magnify in strength and might,
As if Divine appointed, they hold Nature in their keep.

Whose subtle brain devised these monuments in stone
To symbolise the strength, the spirit, of this mountain land?
Perchance some obscure rustic? - To art and fame unknown.
Or did they rise unaided from the soil whereon they stand?

They bear no signs of borrowed art from Egypt, Greece or Rome.
Nor is their rugged loveliness by Latin script defiled.
The peasant is their worshipper. The mountainside their home.
Rough Pillars of Shane's Hill; stern, stubborn, fearless, wild!

John Clifford (1967)

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John Clifford

A pair of stone built pillars stood for many years an the left hand side of the Lame/ Ballymena main road some short distance from the site of Crowes Public House. Instead of the usual cone-shaped top these pillars were tipped with huge black stone slabs seated on and, pointing outwards and upwards. Hence the very apt name - "The Rough Pillars." They were removed for a road-improvement scheme about 1970. J.C.