Your people await you, their heavy washing
flaps for you in the housing estates –
a credulous people. God, you could do it, God
help you, stand on a corner stiff
with rhetoric, promising nothing under the sun.
Ecclesiastes explores the unique political and religious culture found in Belfast, particularly the Protestant and unionist cultures in which Mahon was raised and grew to reject. Like many Belfast poems, this piece draws attention to the shipyard that helped make the city what it is today. This time, however, the shipyard remains silent, to highlight the stern nature of the community.
This poem illustrates the image many people see when they look at celebrations such as those held on the 12th of July every year from an outsider’s perspective – a unique and intriguing spectacle.