A prayer for the Portunalia

A view of the Baltimore Harbor from the deck of a Coast Guard sailing ship
Baltimore Harbor, September 2013, taken by your humble blogger

Hail, Portunus, protector of ports,
guardian of portals, god of the harbors.
Hail to you Portunus, Palaimon, divinized
by the waves, akin to Antinous, boy on a dolphin.
Hear, Portunus, a prayer for your blessings
on this harbor town, and all harbors everywhere.
Let the ships safely come and go with cargoes
and with passengers. Let no storm deter the cruises
or topple the water taxis which the tourists ride.
Protect our waterfront; may it be beautiful and safe.
Let no child fall into the waters; let no suicide
leap into the depths in despair. Let the blessing
of commerce come and go through our Inner Harbor
as easily as the gulls, the mallards, the coots
come and go in their seasons. Let our historic ships
ride lightly on the water and let their stories be truly told.
Defend us, O Portunus, from storm and flood,
and I will honor your name and remember you
when I stand at the harbor’s edge.

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4 thoughts on “A prayer for the Portunalia

  1. Very nice indeed!

    You know, it just occurred to me after reading your piece that I live (again!) in Oak Harbor, a place named after a harbor…and yet, it is not a harbor of trading, ferries (those are in other places on the island), or anything else. It’s a leisure harbor, you might say, that only gets used by people with sailboats and yachts, pretty much; the Navy doesn’t even do much seaborne activity from Crescent Harbor (there’s two harbors here in Oak Harbor) any longer. It’s kind of strange to think of that…

    Nonetheless, may Portunus and Palaimon protect all of us, from Oak Harbor to Cork Harbor, Ostia to Piraeus, and everywhere between and beyond!

    Like

    1. Here in Baltimore our Inner Harbor is tourism and fun–the National Aquarium, shopping, the historic ship Constellation, water taxis, paddle boats–but we still have a working commercial port further out. When I was a child, the Inner Harbor was still all commercial docks, but rebuilding began around 1980. It’s important to the city in so many ways, and I should give Portunus an offering the next time I’m there.

      Like

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