It is the town where I was born within green rolling hills
A place of thriving industry and resplendent red bricked mills.
As I have wrought in this foreign clime where the temperature is high,
I think back to Belfast Town where the gantries touch the sky.
I see great ships I worked upon that later sailed the seas,
In tempest, typhoon, ocean storms and gentle coastal lees.
A contribution to the World has been the Belfast Engineer,
Men of substance and resource, with metal their career.
Is Mackie’s Foundry still up there on the Springfield Road,
Producing looms to weave the jute at an Indian abode?
And does the Sirocco still prepare machines for ‘Darjeeling Tea’,
At that busy junction where the Lagan meets the sea?
What about the slipways are the boats still sliding down,
Built by Harland and Wolff for shippers of renown?
Are the ‘Linen Barons’ happy with their produce on the loom,
Or has the lack of orders filled them with gloom and doom?
Do the ‘Head Line’ boats still ply those North Atlantic Lanes,
Going up the Great Lakes to bring home the prairie grains?
Are Short and Harland still making their miracles of the air
And reassuring their customers they’ll be able to supply a spare?
Forty years or more have passed since I left that busy scene,
Pursuing engineering work where far off fields look green.
It is with pride that I reflect on that crucible of inventive skills,
Nestling in the Lagan’s vale between those green banked hills.
Monty Alexander 28.2.96