While still a student, wandering abroad But lodged in Dublin for the summer, I Would pass, each day, through King Street with a sigh Dismissing all I couldn’t afford as fraud, And turn, at the butt-end of Grafton Street To join the host of tourists on their way Beneath the Fusilier’s arch, in fanned retreat Into the Green beyond, and there delay Before bronze statues set along the path To figure those who’d felt the empire’s wrath. I’d take the route that bridged the small lake’s heart And come out just beside the bust of Joyce, Listening as he did to that clamorous voice Which formed a sentence on each place and part: The vulgar, hocking wares; the verdant growth Surrounding those immortalized in loss And who spoke only through a diecast oath That made on history’s text a marginal gloss; The narrow gate, where branching birch and lime Gave shade like Marvell’s garden out of time. And then, before the stoop-browed church of brick That Newman built, scrunched in between a pair Of Georgian homes, I’d silence thought for prayer And leave behind the mind’s desultory tick: Stray images from Mahon, lines from Yeats, Some thought of Maritain’s I couldn’t decide The sense of, but left, now, with other freights— The future’s shadow, past wounds to my pride— As if they dropped in the green postbox there, Before I’d mount the lion-sentried stair. Once in the college’s marmoreal cool, I’d take the narrow staircase at the rear, Where Hopkins muttered once in self-sunk drear, Where Joyce had tramped with martyr, crank, and fool; And Newman raised his cassock round the knee To climb, as I did, marking each flight’s turn With prayer before each statue that he’d see, The mind’s lit incense pausing there to burn For, Joseph, Mary, and, at last, the Lord, That soul and body rise with one accord. How callow it must seem, that first attempt To measure out my days as if they were Some liturgy whose borrowed form might moor A life adrift, misshapen, and unkempt. We pass so absently from phase to phase— I know—that conscious disciplines seem vain; But even now it sets my heart ablaze To see that young man bow to foreign reign. With him, I, older and unruly still, Would have my will reordered by His will.