Carrickfergus

I was born in Belfast between the mountain and the gantries
To the hooting of lost sirens and the clang of trams:
Thence to Smoky Carrick in County Antrim
Where the bottle-neck harbour collects the mud which jams

The little boats beneath the Norman castle,
The pier shining with lumps of crystal salt;
The Scotch Quarter was a line of residential houses
But the Irish Quarter was a slum for the blind and halt.

The brook ran yellow from the factory stinking of chlorine,
The yarn-mill called its funeral cry at noon;
Our lights looked over the lough to the lights of Bangor
Under the peacock aura of a drowning moon.

The Norman walled this town against the country
To stop his ears to the yelping of his slave
And built a church in the form of a cross but denoting
The list of Christ on the cross, in the angle of the nave.

I was the rector's son, born to the anglican order,
Banned for ever from the candles of the Irish poor;
The Chichesters knelt in marble at the end of a transept
With ruffs about their necks, their portion sure.

The war came and a huge camp of soldiers
Grew from the ground in sight of our house with long
Dummies hanging from gibbets for bayonet practice
And the sentry's challenge echoing all day long;

-7-

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The Earth Compels
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents 3
  • Carrickfergus 7
  • June Thunder 9
  • The Sunlight on the Garden 10
  • Chess 11
  • The Heated Minutes 12
  • Iceland 13
  • Solvitur Acris Hiems 16
  • Passage Steamer 17
  • Circus 18
  • Homage to Clichés 22
  • On Those Islands 25
  • Eclogue from Iceland 29
  • Eclogue Between the Motherless 40
  • Leaving Barra 47
  • Hidden Ice 49
  • Taken for Granted 50
  • Thank You 51
  • Books, Do Not Look at Me 52
  • Only Let It Form 53
  • Now That the Shapes of Mist 54
  • Christmas Shopping 55
  • Bagpipe Music 58
  • Rugby Football Excursion 60
  • Epilogue 62
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