This harbour was made by art and force.
And called Kingstown and afterwards Dun Laoghaire.
And holds the sea behind its barrier
Less than five miles from my house.
Lord be with us say the makers of a nation.
Lord look down say the builders of a harbour.
They came and cut a shape out of ocean
And left stone to close around their labour.
Officers and their wives promenaded
On this spot once and saw with their own eyes
The opulent horizon and obedient skies
Which nine tenths of the law provided.
And frigates with thirty-six guns, cruising
The outer edges of influence, could idle
And enter here and catch the tide of
Empire and arrogance and the Irish Sea rising
And rising through a century of storms
And cormorants and moonlight the whole length of this coast,
While an ocean forgot an empire and the armed
Ships under it changed: to slime weed and cold salt and rust.
City of shadows and of the gradual
Capitulations to the last invader
This is the final one: signed in water
And witnessed in granite and ugly bronze and gun-metal.
And by me. I am your citizen: composed of
Your fictions, your compromise, I am
A part of your story and its outcome.
And ready to record its contradictions.