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The Harbour

 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.

Poem by Eavan Boland
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