From February to April 2018, Samantha has collaborated with Darren Gibson, a Master's Composition student from the University of Salford. Darren Gibson's atmospheric music brings to life the poetry of Samantha Ford, telling the story of ancient origins that has a modern moral at its core. The musical prose is based on the legend of Finn MacCool and the creation of the Giants Causeway and Isle of Man. Watch the video and read the poem below.
Of Strong Mind (poem)
Stones crowd the shoreline before venturing out,
Like pebbles on a beach licked by the sea;
Their voyage yet to begin from the Irish coast,
Across the grey glass that twinkles in the dawning sun,
To form a passage to a land where the Red Man lives.
The sea glass shatters in sunlight and the promise of a new day.
Finn MacCool smooths his hand over the cliffs,
As the giant brushes away the moss clinging to the rough rock face,
Like a stroke over his own weathered features.
He then grasps a boulder nearby and begins work,
Placing them one after another,
Again and again and again,
As steps out to sea.
The stones warm to the passing of time,
As Finn MacCool lays a causeway from his homeland shore of Co Antrim,
Forming a passage of stone stretching to the Scottish coast,
Where a Red Man stands;
His blazing hair wired to the clouds as rain runs to the shore,
Wetting the once warm stones of Finn MacCool’s labour.
The rocks cool on impact as a foot slams into its face;
Fire worms quiver in the highland air,
Sprouting fearfully from the legs of the Red Man;
Legs as chiselled as the contours of the Scottish cliffs,
Which serves as his pedestal.
The sky explodes in an electric flash,
Setting afire the shore surrounding Finn’s giant causeway;
Finn MacCool looks up into the bulging eyes of the scarlet Benandonner,
The Red Man,
A flaming head among the dark storm that partly cloaks him and
Rumbles in guttural gasps.
The Red Man,
The warrior giant,
Catches the next shot of searing lightning,
Crushing the thunderbolt between his tree-trunk fingers
To a flat disc-world of energy; keeping it in his pocket.
“Away. You,” he bellows.
“Away. You. Nàmhaid <nowid>. Enemy”,
The grave challenge roars from his thick throat.
Finn MacCool sees through burning eyes to the smouldering heart of Benandonner
And knows he will not prevail on the giant’s own Scottish grounds.
Denied passage, MacCool turns and flees homeward;
The stones quaking beneath him with every intake of breath
That draws sharp jabs to his side as he runs for his life,
Pursued by the Red Man.
MacCool prays his partner, Oonagh,
Will be home at fort Cullamore
To help him escape the belligerent Benandonner.
The wind aids Finn’s swift passage along the causeway to Cullamore,
Where he finds Oonagh, wisely waiting.
Upon hearing Finn’s hurried words requesting weapons to fight,
She goes away;
Returning with a white sheet,
Billowing in the brewing Scottish storm;
Its soft fibres dancing with intent and,
When wrapped around Finn’s quivering body,
Settle on his shoulders in a cunning calm,
Like warm, reassuring hands that reflect his wife’s smile.
“Brawn alone will not defeat the Red Man;
Only strength of mind can conquer the giant”,
She soothes, as Finn follows her arm’s motion
To a room beyond, behind a curtain,
Where he waits with shallow breath.
The door to Cullamore rattles in its hinges,
Its beams breaking under the force of Benandonner’s fist.
The handle bows to its owner,
Opening to reveal a resolute Oonagh,
Who welcomes Benandonner in with a quiet knowing.
For all the demands for Finn, the Red Man does not bend her;
She stands as strong as the stones from whence the causeway came.
Warming to her resolve, she asks Benandonner to wait
While Finn returns from hunting on the hill,
Leading the Red Man inside,
Who still seethes and heaves
To the rhythm of a rock fall with every exhale.
A sharp selection of heavy hammers hang from the Cullamore walls;
Oonagh introduces them as toys for their Finn-child,
Although they were truly ornamental and gargantuan in mass,
Far beyond anything Finn or Benandonner could hope to wield.
The giant uncertainly shivers as he questions his own strength
In a fight against Finn.
Oonagh moves on;
The kitchen fire burns bright
Upon the entrance of The Red Man,
Reflectively sparking a familiar hue of his hair into the room.
Throwing shadow-flames onto the walls,
The fire flickers and spits at the giant’s intrusion.
Oonagh’s deception takes another turn;
She serves Benandonner a bread loaf her husband eats daily,
Slipping inside it an iron bar to
Solidify the surface from soft bread
To a block that, with one bite,
Knocks the roots of the Red Man’s teeth
From their mouth craters, causing them to
Fall like rounded marble to the tiled floor.
He yells in agony as Oonagh apologises in innocence;
She takes an ordinary loaf
To a curtain that wavers in quickening breath.
It pulls back, breaking the shield to the room beyond,
Revealing Finn wrapped in a swaddling sheet of white,
Cooing as a baby waiting to be fed.
He grabs the bread and bites through the aerated dough.
Peering between tears, the Red Man’s eyes rest on the Finn-child,
Wondering what monster Finn must be to have
A child of this size born to him;
A child that eats iron bread like gliding through hot butter;
That has the muscles of a warrior,
That can carry, never yielding, bulbous, heavy-ended hammers
In childish play.
How fearful must Finn MacCool be,
Unbelievably, the father of such brawn
From a child just born.
“Finn is soon to return from hunting”
Oonagh gazes onwards at the child and no further.
When all she hears is the fire dimming in the grate,
The rock fall heaving gone from the quaking Cullamore fort,
She looks up to find no sign of The Red Man,
Save his teeth resting like tombstones
On the kitchen tiles.
The Red Man runs,
And escapes to return to Scotland and,
In his haste and fear,
Claws at the cliff as he reaches the shore,
Gathering parts of the coast,
Throwing it back onto the causeway,
Severing his passage to Ireland,
To Finn MacCool,
Forming the Isle of Man
And a reminder of a
From a woman,
Not of brawn,
But of strong mind.
© Copyright Samantha Ford and Darren Gibson 2018