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Before the six counties of Northern Island

had civil rights, when some subjects had two votes

and some had none, and our constitution

permitted such injustice, I was woken,

in my third floor student digs on Newsham Drive,

Liverpool, early one summer Saturday

by pipes and drums and accordions.

The city’s Orange Lodges were having

their family day out in Newsham Park –

more than ninety Lodges each with a band

of swagger and lilt: ‘The Sash My Father Wore’,

‘The Orange Maid Of Sligo’. By mid-day

children and wives were picnicking round the Parks’

two boating lakes – the bandsmen aleing

in and outside pubs along West Derby Road.

Through the afternoon there were intermittent

outbreaks of song: ‘…the shutting of the gates…’,

‘…when you’re marching down the Shankill…’. Later

the soft night swooned with swaying revels, stray notes,

oaths, and the hollow noise of empty bottles

rolling on pavements.

© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Alan Horne
    November 27, 2021

    No British person who isn’t personally involved in this conflict tries to understand it, so thanks for this poem, David. I recall my dad making jokes about the left-footers and the proddydogs (he was one of the latter) fighting each other during his childhood in Liverpool in the 1920s. People usually quote the figure of 3000 deaths during the thirty years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and since the Good Friday Agreement there have been less than 200. So progress is possible, even if very difficult.

    • David Selzer
      November 27, 2021

      I became a supporter of Irish independence or, perhaps, more accurately I came to understand and therefore condemn British Imperialism whenever and wherever it operated, when I was studying O level history.

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