Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Young of Belfast

Though religious conflict was always a part of my childhood in Northern Ireland, it did not erupt into violence and death until after we had emigrated to Canada. From across the sea, I watched in horror as the Troubles escalated and families lost their children, their security and their way of life. I have always been grateful that I did not have to raise my sons in that state of oppression. My heart still breaks for the mothers who did, and who suffered horrendous loss because of it.

I am not a poet, but was moved to write this piece in 1985 after watching yet another mother grieve for her son, his life now reduced to a headline on the evening news...

The Young of Belfast
Suckled on mistrust, the young of Belfast
learn early to hate.
They know fear from the first nervous clutch
of a mother's arms,
And anger from the stiff, defensive line
of a father's back.
Rage is their heritage; a birthright passed
on from generations
long nurtured on the feast of prejudice.
Through streets divided,
memory dogs their steps with practiced zeal.
Young mouths taunt...
Young hands hurl rocks in a battle that was
promised to them
long before they were born to wage it.
Children fight children
in imitation of hurts both real and unreal,
and childhood games
meld into the adult world of reality.
More than bodies lie wasted in the struggle.
Dreams fall to ruin
beside innocence early vanquished;
and victory gained
only serves to lock the narrow cells of embittered minds
that shroud themselves in righteousness.
Good soldiers all,
the young of Belfast obey rules they
were not free to choose.
In this war of liberation, they have become
the true wounded...
The photo above is one I took of the many murals still seen on walls throughout Belfast..grim reminders of a time when violence so easily conquered reason.


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my goodness, this is such a strong and powerful piece, Lynette! Well done! I LOVE the window up above.........awesome. I was watching a documentary about Martin Luther King yesterday............the struggle continues.....all over the planet. Let's hope out of it comes the transformation of consciousness that is trying so hard to birth itself right now. Great post! Wonderful poem.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Lynette
Such powerful words... your emotions come through clearly with this piece . .. your words reflect the feelings of helplessness and angst these families must have lived with each day... what a life!! You must feel blessed that you were out of there before the conflict began... such a sad time in history!!

Coincidently I saw a tv doco the other night.. actually i think a travel piece and I believe it was belfast.. There is a large billboard depicting a schoolgirl who was killed in the crossfire.. apparently the mother did not allow it to be erected until the ceasefire... another powerful reminder of what was lost.. but also.. what has been gained with peace..

Thanks for popping over my way... usually I put up my own artwork/travel photos but with Le Tour had intended to do a whole series as i did last year.. but moving house and bad internet connection changed those plans... Love your Serengeti photos... a friend of mine was married in a hot air balloon over the Serengeti... okey dokey.. thanks again for the visit!! xxx Julie

Elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for leading me here to your other blog. Your posts are fascinating and beautiful and I wish I were your traveling companion. I'll return here tonight when I get home from work to finish this treat. Love it!!

Elizabeth said...

I left a surprise for you on my blog. When you get a chance stop by and collect it :)

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...

I have read your piece of writing about Belfast with great interest, as I too was born in Belfast. I only moved away sixteen years ago. Too many wasted years, without hope for my family.
I now am so pleased to have had sixteen very happy and peaceful years, away from conflict, which is still alive in some areas of the city.
Best wishes,