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Iona Quotations

The man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not
gain force upon the field of Marathon or whose piety
would not grow warmer among the ruins of lona.
Samuel Johnson

When I first visited lona I had probably never heard the
word piety and would not have understood what it meant. But I remember having a peculiar feeling as I walked up to the Abbey and on to the beach beyond. I subsequently attributed that feeling to the lie of the land, the very white sand, interspersed with pinkish rocks, and the colour of the surrounding sea, which really is ‘wine dark’. Through some geological accident Jona is not composed of bogs and precipices, but is largely covered with a light, springy turf. To walk on this responsive surface, and to feel free to walk in any direction, was immensely exhilarating. But after repeated visits I began to realize that the purely physical qualities were not the whole reason for my devotion. There are places in the world where even someone as insensitive as I am must feel a vibration from the remote past, an exhalation, whether of good or evil: Delphi, Dolos, Mycenae (very evil), Monte Oliveto, Avila, Cezanne’s house beside the quarry of Bibemus. Among such places I would include lona...
Kenneth Clark

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