Carrickfergus (1937) - poem by Louis Macneice.
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 it's 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 rectors 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;
A Yorkshire terrier ran in and out by the gate-lodge
Barred to civilians, yapping as if taking affront;
Marching at ease and singing 'Who Killed **** Robin?'
The troops went out by the lodge and off to the Front.
The steamer was camouflaged that took me to England-
Sweat and khaki in the Carlisle train;
I thought that the war would last for ever and sugar
be always rationed and that never again
Would the weekly papers not have photos of sandbags
And my governess not make bandages from moss
And people not have maps above the fireplace
With flags on pins moving across and across-
Across the hawthorn hedge the noise of bugles,
Flares across the night,
Somewhere on the lough was a prison ship for Germans,
A cage across their sight.
I went to school in Dorset, the world of parents
Contracted into a puppet world of sons
Far from the mill girls, the smell of porter, the salt-mines
And the soldiers with their guns.
I looked for Louis MacNeice on HP but couldn't find him, so have posted some of his poetry in case someone else comes looking too..