Feb 232010
 
I found this today as we continued to sift through my grandparents papers. Granddaddy was born on Orby Drive in Belfast, Ireland. Though he came to this country at 21, a bit of his heart was forever in Belfast. I found the following on a typed sheet…and older and better iteration that I’ve found elsewhere. I remember Granddaddy reciting this (more than once)…and feel sorry that you’ll never hear it in his voice…
A Belfast Poem

I’ll speak to you, dear stranger, if you really want to know,
So listen , and I’ll tell you why I love this city so.

Belfast is an Ulsterman with features dour and grim,
It’s a pint of creamy porter and a Sunday morning hymn;
It’s a grimy little cafe where they serve you dainty teas.
It’s fish and chips in paper, or vinegar with peas.
It’s a banner on July the twelfth, a sticky toffee apple,
A righteous little Gospel hall, a Roman Catholic Chapel;
It’s a Telly boy with dirty face, a piece of apple tart ,
A fry upon a Saturday, or a coal breek on a cart.

It’s a Corporation gas man, complete with bowler hat,
It’s wee shop at the corner, a friendly bit of chat;
It’s an oul lad in a duncher, a woman in a shawl,
A pinch of snuff, a tatie farl, a Loyal Orange Hall;
A tobacco smell in York Street, a beg of yella man,
It’s an easter egg that’s dyed with whin, a slice of Ormo pan,
A youngster with some sprickly backs inside an oul glass jar,
It’s a meeting at the Customs House, or an old Victorian bar.

It’s mudbanks on the Lagan when the tide is running low,
It’s a man collecting refuse, bonfires in Sandy Row;
It’s a bag of salty dullis, a bowl of Irish stew,
A goldfish bought in Gresham Street, a preacher at the queue,
It’s a portrait of King Billy upon a gable wall,
A flower-seller on a stool, outside the City Hall;
A half moon round the door step, a pollis man on guard,
A man whose crying “Delf for Regs”, a little whitewashed yard.

It’s the market on a Friday, the ships lined at the docks,
It’s a shiny polished fender, a bunch of green shamrocks;
It’s herrings fried in oaten meal, with a drink of buttermilk;
It’s a snowy linen handkerchief as soft as finest silk;
It’s a bap with country butter, a dander round the zoo,
A climb up tough Ben Madigan to get a splendid view;

It’s a bunch of savoury scallions, a plate of buttery champ,
The hopscotch on the footpath, a swing around a lamp.
It’s delf dogs on the mantel piece, the wee man from the Pru,
It’s a chimney sweep on bicycle, coming to do the flu;
It’s the ever present vista of the hills of Castlereagh,
It’s the deathless hush on Saturday when Linfield play away;
It’s by Killarney’s Lakes and Fells, on the bells of the Assembly Hall,
It’s spikey broken bottles stuck on the backyard wall;
It’s bacon boiled with pamphrey, served when piping hot,
With Skerry spuds, like balls of flour, cracked laughing in the pot.
It’s the smell of Mansion polish on the lino in the hall,
The Sunday school excursion, a treat for one and all;
It’s the Islandmen who build great ships that take us far to sea,
It’s the S.D. Bells in Ann Street where they sell the best of tea;
It’s friends home from America, who have been thinking long;
The Salvation Band on Sunday to save the sinnin’ throng;
It’s a wee walk up the Lisburn Road and back by the Malone,
It’s the Albert Clock in High Street, with its rich and mellow tone.
It’s a Barney Hughes hot cross bun, a canary in a cage,
An old man talking in the park, of a past and better age.
It’s the sharp expressive dialect of everyone at large,
It’s a ton of coal on the Lagan afloating in a barge;
It’s wemen on the windy stool when the summer sun shines down,
It’s a V of Apple Tart or a wee race into town;
It’s a needle to an anchor in Smithfield’s famous mart,
I think I’d better call a halt before I break my heart.

And that’s the answer stranger and now I’m sure you’ll see,
Why Belfast is the only place in all the world for me.

Based on an original idea
By Bill Nesbitt


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