Poems from the Coast | A Maritime Poetry Series
The latest in our series of maritime inspired poems by Daniel Wade is a tribute to the iconic Martello towers dotted around the Irish coast, in particular to the one based in Sandycove and immortalised by the opening chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Sea State Martello
The span of bay is everywhere I look,
throbbing in heat, in kelp,
impossible to predict in its seasons. Dawn
is now under way. But from my granite gunrest,
self-pitying and unshaven,
a prince without sire or dominion eyes
the silvered sea. Thunderheads
amass northward, like a long-expected
invasion that will never arrive.
Only the Irish Sea is incoming: yacht
and ship stagger on her waves’ breaking
green, marked as the panther
and its sleeping pursuer.
It’s a blessing to live with such nearness
to water. But neither you, nor I,
nor anyone would dare call it ‘neighbour’.
It’s too noble for that, or any
other term of human endearment.
Below me are diving pools,
a stone’s throw of steps, swimmers
eeling in the late-noon tide.
My aslant windows sip sunlight;
night lamps grapple with the shade.
By the lifeguard’s hut, red flags flap
as if taunting the bull-headed sea.
A car ferry clears the harbour-mouth.
Home to amateur scholars and the eye-patched
crank who chose exile over the decorum
of classics, priestly sophism and opera-song,
I am a work of squat, defensive art,
cannon-proof and hounded by seagulls,
my throne the surf-bulleted rocks
while my weather-weary flag
lags in the grip
of dawn like a casualty.
Keep one eye seaward, always;
rain may muddy your sight like a blindfold.
Grey monsoons keep a civil distance.
It is the destiny of monuments
to be toppled,
groundswells to engulf them.
So, from the imperial keystone,
windworn as parapets, the sea state
rises to meet me, a pale fever.
Daniel Wade is a poet and playwright from Dublin, Ireland. He is a graduate of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology where he studied English and Journalism.
Check out his website danielwadeauthor.com for more.