Rocks and stones have been part of our existence for more than 2 million years. They are responsible for the development of the human race and we are still fascinated by their beauty, their endurance and the mystery of their formation. We travel far and wide to gaze at the magnificence of canyons; we meet the earth and its rocky crust when our heels beat the ground as we hike trails strewn with stones. We take rocks as mementos of our wanderings, knowing that they will faithfully remind us of cherished journeys. We wear them as magnificent jewelry and a whole generation turned them into “pet rocks” secretly wishing that they were imbued with magic powers. Perhaps it is so, as in certain parts of the world it is believed that mountains and rocky slopes are where the gods dwell.
Stones are the keepers of time and history. They have been used by ancient generations to record stories and practice religious rites. We know that as long ago as 7,000 years, enormous stone slabs called “dolmen” were erected for such purposes. More recent ones can be found in England (Stonehenge), France (Carnac) and many other parts of the world including Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands and as far away as Korea and India.
I encountered these mysterious stone tables while visiting the little town of Rahier while on vacation in Belgium. It is a quaint village where every house is bedecked with flowers as if expecting some fabulous celebration. The region is known for its stone quarries supplying the material for the construction of these sturdy homes. Another type of stone called schist is also available. It is a remarkable stone that sparkles when the light strikes its mica chips releasing what feels like a magic aura. These stones are easily fabricated into specific shapes and sizes. And what an amazing sight it was to see slabs of these hoisted along the road, like glistening posters upon which were engraved poems dedicated to the trees, the insects, the rain, the old school, furrows where once stood old houses, the cemetery, a 600 year old tree, the church, a gate and a bench where lovers meet. It is like walking through a written ode glorifying the village and the soul that lives there.
These poems are the creation of an elderly couple of former teachers who live in a house that dates back to the 17th century. They live simply and imbue their surroundings with the immense love they have for nature and the world we live in. These poems engraved on stones imbues the onlooker with wonder and awe. It is as if some ancient scriptures from a long ago past have returned to remind us to pause and inhale our moments of beauty.
A few miles down the road are fields where ancient dolmens remind us that long ago the druids practiced their rites under mistletoe hanging from branches of oak trees. Their spirit seems to linger, whispering ancient thoughts into the countryside captured in poems floating on slabs of schist.
Là au creux du vallon
Le village semble aux aguets
Comme une frêle embarcation
Sous l’énorme vague des fôrets
Un ciel de plomb impose
Ses gris, ses noirs moroses
Que surgisse le soleil
Dans le bleu si bleu du ciel
Et les verts éclatent en mille tons
Et le vent entame sa chanson
Il est midi
Mais déjà l’astre est au couchant
Il met le feu à l’horizon, jetant
Ses rouges, ses jaunes, ses oranges
Le ciel deviant symphonie étrange
Voici la nuit
Suzanne et Marcel Mosuy
…To be continued with more poems from Rahier with translations