Ellan Vannin

TO THE LADY RAGLAN
A FAIRY GREETING

“Themselves” upon the mountains,
“Themselves” that haunt the plain,
That sparkle through the fountains
And laugh among the rain;
Greeting, greeting,
Singing in the rain,
Laughing in the mountains
Greet you once again.

Your Druid Land’s akin to them
With them you have a part
That send a song to win to them
A kindly Irish heart;
Singing, singing,
Singing through the rain
And feeling you akin to them
Would greet you once again.

J K.

Claghbane
Ramsey, Isle of Man.

THE HILLS OF ELLAN VANNIN

WHERE the silver moon is shining
Over some far-distant shore;
Where the weary sun declining
Sinks amid the city’s roar.
To the toiler in the city,
To the exile far from home,
Comes the thought of Ellan Vannin
Dreaming far among the foam;

And they long for Ellan Vannin,
For the fairy island home,
For the hills of Ellan Vannin,
Gleaming through their veil of foam.

Then beyond the crowded alleys,
Where the street lets in the sky,
Shine again the fairy valleys
On the toiler’s tired eye.
Then beyond the lonely mountain,
Burning shore or snow-clad plain,
Rise the hills of Ellan Vannin,
And the exile’s there again;

Longing still for Ellan Vannin,
For the fairy island home,
For the hills of Ellan Vannin,
Gleaming through their veil of foam.

GUILLYN VEGGEY

“THE LIL FALLAS”

I heard the Guillyn Veggey at the break of day,
On a merry, merry morning in the month of May.
They were hammering an’ clamouring an’ making such a din —
An’ yet there’s fallas doubtin’ that the like is in.
Clink-a-link, link-a-link, link, link, lin,
Clink-a-link, link-a-link, the hammers ring;
Clink-a-link, link-a-link, ding, ding, ding —
An’ yet there’s fallas doubtin’ that the like is in!

They were hammering their barrels in the cooper’s cave,
Sending out the chips to meet the brimming wave.
Working in the hollows of the Cushlin hill,
Turning out their dandy boats an’ tackle still.
Clink-a-link, etc.

I heard them in the cave behind the waterfall,
Merry voices echoed by the rocky wall;
While the bay was covered by the chips that flew.
And every chip became a boat with all its crew.
Clink-a-link, etc.

Oh, lucky is the morning in the month of May,
When you hear the Guillyn Veggey at the break of day,
Hammering an’ clamouring an’ making such a din —
For they know the herrin’s coming, and there’s plenty in!
Clink-a-link, link-a-link, link, link, lin,
Clink-a-link, link-a-link, the hammers ring;
Clink-a-link, link-a-link, ding, ding, ding,
They know the herrin’s coming, and there’s plenty in.

[Guillyn veggey — Little fellows.]

THE CALL TO THE CALVES

A LONAN LEGEND

KEBEG, kebeg, kebeg!
O, why do you call kebeg?
The calves are home and the lambs in fold,
The colt is brought from the upland wold,
The childher in from the frosty cold –
Then why do you call kebeg?

Kebeg, kebeg, kebeg!
She used to call kebeg.
She went for the calves on a summer night,
She followed them over the streamlet bright,
Along the valley and over the height
We heard her call kebeg.

Kebeg, kebeg, kebeg!
The fairies called kebeg.
From the dreary pool in the tangled dell,
The fathomless pool of the Nikkesen’s well,
They called with the voice of a silver bell,
“Come here, come here, kebeg.”

Kebeg, kebeg, kebeg!
We heard them call kebeg.
From Mollagh Oure the mist came down
And shut the glen from all aroun’,
And faint and fainter came the soun’,
Kebeg, kebeg, kebeg!

That’s why I call kebeg,
And I’m callin’ still kebeg.
From Nikkesen’s pool she’ll chance to hear,
And joy to know her mother’s near
So night by night and year by year,
I’m calling still kebeg.

[Kebeg — The call to the calves differs slightly in different Parishes, and probably bears the meaning of “little ones.”]

THE BISHOP AND THE BOATS

THESE Bishops I’m toul’ is mortal boul’,
An’ doin’ a power of praichin';
But givin’ a han’ to a workin man’,
An’ dhrawin’ us all to their taichin’.

Its like I’ll be took and unanermous shook
At the wans from the chappal with hisses;
But still an’ for all, they’re havin’ no call
To be up with their Wesleyan fisses.

For this falla’s thrue, an’ plenty to do
With fightin’ the throw of the wather —
An’ they’re obstinate here, that if threw from the pier
They’d drown in the mill-dam to bother.

He’s terrible free, an’ usin’ the sea,
An’ away with us out to the herrin';
An’ leavin’ his gown in the chiss I’ll be boun’
While the holly His Lordship is gerrin’.

We were nearly in ruin with buitchin’ that’s doin’,
An’ sceddhan goin’ shyer an’ shyer,
But thruth I am tellin’ when herrin’ is yellin,
The tallies is higher an’ higher.

An’ believe me you may, from that very same day
When me an’ the Bishop was fishin’,
The herrin’ took heart, an’ come back with a start,
An’ we’re gerrin’ as much as we’re wishin’.

[Sceddhan — Herring.]
[Buitchin’ — Witching.]

TH’ OUL’ MARE

SHE’S rough, an’ she’s tough urrov massy,
An’ she’s gettin’ up in years;
An’ her knees is middlin’ onaisy,
An’ a piece urrov wan of her ears;

An’ wan of her eyes is blinded,
An’ th’ other is not for seein’,
But the run of her tees she’ll be gettin’
As long as she has her bein’.

An’ there’s wan or two tees at her still,
For she’s terrible handy to nip,
An’ up with her heels in a minute
If she hears you shakin’ the whip.

An’ part with her, is it? No never!
As long as I’m in to be keerin’,
An’ goin’ perhaps to them hawkers,
An’ sthrangers be raggin’ an’ teerin’!

Aw no! On this farm she was rarin’,
An’ here she may end her days –
Come urrov that y’ oul’ schamer,
Be off now, an’ just go your ways!

THE FAIRY DOG

Childher round the Chiollagh

THE poor lil doggie is weenin’
To see will we let him come in;
It’s like he’ll be lost on the mountain,
An’ shiverin’ out in the win’.

Mammy

What talkin’ of dogs is there on you –
What is it you’re schamin’ theer?
Be done with your capers an’ noisin’,
There’s no lil doggie here!

Childher

His lil grey paw is workin’,
Pushin’ in at the crack of the dhure,
An’ a scutchin’ of leaves an’ rubbage
Thrailin’ in with his hair on the flure;

An’ the poor lil doggie is weenin’
To see can he come to the heat,
Goin’ a losin’ it’s like on the mountain,
An’ starvin’ for somethin’ to eat.

Mammy

What talkin’ of starvin’s there on you?
Your suppers is barely ate.
Is it wantin’ your pieces already –
It’s a piece of a stick you should get!

Childher

His two lil eyes is peerin’
Out under the tussocks of hair,
An’ a long lil tail on him wavin’
An’ sweepin’ the flure all bare.

An’ the poor lil doggie is weenin’
Comin’ in from the wet an’ the mire,
An’ sweesin’ himself, an’ sweesin’
To see will he get to the fire.

Mammy (lighting candle)

Are you nearly done with your pipe, Daa?
Is it time we were goin’ upstairs?
These childher is noisin’ an’ talkin’
When they ought to be sayin’ their prayers.

Some surt of a dog they are seein’ –
An’ deed but it’s likely enough,
For Themselves will be watchin’ an’ peepin’,
An’ takin’ a bit of a huff.

Th’ oul’ people would always be sayin’
They were sendin’ their dogs before,
That the hearth would be goin’ a leavin’,
An’ a turf or some bons for a store.

(to childher)

Well foller your shaddas to bed then.
See them climbin’ up theer by the wall –
An’ I wouldn’ thrus’ but the las’ wan
Will be took at the fayries for all!

Childher (going upstairs)

An’ the poor lil doggie is weenie’,
Sittin’ all by himself on the flure –
Oh Mammy! Don’t leave us! They’re comin’,
Thrailin’ in at the crack of the dhure!

[Chiollagh — The open hearth.]
[Sweesin’ — Squeezing.]
[Bons — Sticks of gorse, &c., for kindling.]

CHIBBER-Y-WURRA WATER

My Mother lying weak and spent
Cried out to me her daughter —
“O for a drink of Mary’s Well,
Sweet Chibber-y-Wurra water!”

Among the meadows green and low
I sought in every quarter,
Till Lily Watson shewed to me
The Well of healing water.

“My Mother’s blessing on you rest
For this sweet draught you’ve brought her.”
“O I’m the one,” she said, “that knows
Of Chibber-y-Wurra water.”

“But Ramsey folk have nigh forgot
Among their bricks and mortar
What virtues dwell in Mary’s Well
And Chibber-y-Wurra water.”

[Chibber-y-Wurra — St. Mary’s Well.]

THEM OUL’ TIMES

THEM was the times, the fine oul’ times
When the Manx was goin’ a spakin';
In the pulphit an’ all, it was goin’ for all
At the like of the oul’ Archdacon.

Them was the times, th’ oul’-fashioned times
When the flax would be goin’ a spinnin';
An’ the busy the queels were whistling roun’
As quick as the talk of the women.

Them was the times, the prosperous times
When no one was thinkin’ of savin’s;
But heavin’ the puddens over the quay
To show there was lashin’s an’ lavin’s.

Them was the times, the fine oul’ times
When the weaver was bringin’ the Newses,
An’ colloguin’ the bargain urrov the wife
While the masthar was givin’ his viewses.

Them was the times, the coortin’ times
When the buoys to the dhure were stealin';
An’ the busy the dogs were waggin’ their tails
To show there was no ill-feelin’.

Them was the times, the fine oul’ times
When the childher were goin’ a rarin’
On porridge an’ jough, an’ bonnags an’ broth
An’ suppin’ on priddhas an’ herrin’.

From “Rosy Basins.”

[Jough — Ale.]

UNDER THE THATCH

I used to think my little house the snuggest in the world around,
And long, long for home when I sailed upon the sea,
Its fuchsia bowers and mallow flowers that flushed with pink the rocky ground;
And under the thatch was all the world to me.

I used to think my boy and girl the fairest in the world around,
And watch for their faces amid the wildest sea;
Their laughing ways and pretty plays with all my daily tasks were bound,
And under the thatch was all the world to me.

I used to think my Nancy’s eyes the dearest in the world around,
And long, long for her, when away upon the sea;
Her hearth so neat, and voice so sweet, with love in every sight and sound,
And under the thatch was all the world to me.

But now the boy and girl are gone to wander through the world around,
So long, long it is since they sailed across the sea!
And Nancy lies with darken’d eyes at rest beneath the Church-yard mound,
And under the sod is all the world to me!

THE HOME PLACE.

THE hills of God surround it, His Arms are round it still
Through days of cloud and sunshine, through times of good and ill.
Though trees are felled and fallen, and hedge rows spoiled and bared,
Its picture still unaltered to memory is spared.

A simple cottage home-place with steep and gabled roof,
A little little old place that lay alone, aloof.
We never found it lonely with every tree a friend,
And dear familiar faces at every turn and bend.

Will strangers love the larch-tree and watch its golden fur
Come drifting o’er the pathway in the dim November air!
Will they watch the crag at sunset to see the rosy light
Come stealing o’er the gray rock to pour along the height.

The thrushes still are nesting where high above the sward
Those twin Herculean pillars still keep their watch and ward;
The wood-doves murmur ever below the sheltering hill,
And singing through the meadow the streamlet ripples still.

The trees, the trees are fallen, and bare the meadows lie,
But over crag and pasture still shines the morning sky;
The hills are folded round it that none can take away,
And memory’s rainbow vision will ever with us stay.

BEN VARREY

FAIR are the jewels Ben-varrey has scattered,
Fair as the rain-bow, they girdle the bay,
Turquoise and beryl with diamonds flashing,
Soft-beating opal with luminous ray.
Sown in the tangle white seed-pearls are gleaming,
Crystal and spangle
From pebbles a-dangle,
While sea-maids are dancing,
And sunbeams are glancing,
And brown sands are streaming
With sparkle of spray.

Maidens beware for a shadow is falling!
Quickly the treasures in darkness are hid;
Turquoise and beryl no longer are beaming,
Pearls from their pebbles have glimmered and slid.
Down in the tangle the jewels are biding,
Crystal and spangle
No longer a-dangle,
But sea-maids are dancing,
Where sun-beams are glancing,
And peeping and hiding
To flash out unchid.

Fair is Ben-varrey, but ah, for her wiling!
Woe to the fisherman caught in her snare.
Jewels are hiding her nets by their flashing,
Firmly she’ll bind him, as cruel as fair.
Under the tangle her spells she is weaving,
With crystal and spangle
And pebbles a-dangle;
While sea-maids are dancing,
And sun-beams are glancing,
Her knots she is reeving —
Ah, fisher beware!

[Ben Varrey — Woman of the sea — mermaid.]

MY GOOD OLD MAN!

WHERE go you now my good old man,
Where go you now and the night so wild?
I go to search for one that’s lost
By wicked men beguiled.

What like was she my good old man,
What like was she that you loved so dear?
Like sunshine in an April sky
Her blue eyes shone so clear.

My eyes are dim my good old man,
My eyes are dim with the tears that flow —
Come home, come home my poor lost lamb,
Those tears will heal our woe!

THE BALLAFLETCHER CUP

WHEN Magnus brought the magic cup
From Norway o’er the sea,
He said, “Where shall I find a place
Where this may safely be!
For who shall break this crystal cup
From strife shall have no rest;
But who shall keep this crystal cup
With peace he shall be blest.
So rare a thing, so fair a thing
Is peace for ever blest.”

“The Northern farms stand square and strong,
Begirt with golden corn;
But Scottish kerns come raiding o’er
And vanish with the morn.
Old Inis Patrick holds her own
Above the stormy waves,
But she might lose the lovely thing
Among her winding caves.
Too rare a thing, too fair a thing
To hide in gloomy caves,”

“In Castle Rushen’s banquet hall
A place might sure be found;
But some great shout with shattering note
Would dash it to the ground.
From Point of Ayre to Scarlett Rocks,
From Scarlett round to Bride,
Where shall I find a place of peace
In all the country wide?”

A little child came running by
And whispered in his ear: —
“Trust not the cup to mortal hands,
Though they should hold it dear.
But search among those ancient trees
On Ballafletcher lea,
You there shall find a place of peace
Where dwells the Lhiannan Shee.
So rare a thing, so fair a thing
Leave with the Lhiannan Shee.”

The little child ran on before,
And Magnus followed swift;
He found the place of ancient peace
Where he might leave his gift.
“I leave the cup with you,” he cried,
“O mystic fairy sprite
With magic spell, Oh, guard it well
And watch it day and night.
So rare a thing, so fair a thing
To guard by day and night.”

And now where stand those churches twain
On Ballafletcher strand,
May peace and plenty still be found,
Through all the pleasant land.
Though storms may ravage overhead,
And clash their pealing bells;
Yet men may walk in peace below
If peace within them dwells,
So rare a thing, so fair a thing
Is Peace where’er she dwells.

[Lhiannan Shee — The Peace Fairy.]

THE BREAK OF DAY

CRONK ny-Irree-Lhaa
Dark at the break of day!
When dawn begins to show
With pearl-white glow,
Then from the furrowed sea
Turn weary eyes to thee,
And homing toilers of the night
Look up to where the orient light
Shall kindle on thy burning height
Its first bright ray.

All that in gloom had lain
Leaps into life again,
As to thy rugged heart
The sunbeams dart;
And with the trickling streams
Catching the flying gleams,
Come dancing down from side to side
To spread their gladness far and wide,
And fling themselves along the tide
In silver rain.

Larks in the lift above
Sing to the light they love;
And round their rocky keep
The falcons sweep;
For night and gloom have fled,
God’s sun is overhead,
And shining down with quick’ning ray
On Lag-ny-Keeilley’s ruins gray
Where brooded at the Break of Day
His Holy Dove.

[Cronk-ny-Irree-Lhaa — Hill of the Rising Day. ]

THE CURLEWS

THE winds cried over the waters
And the waves cried up to the sky;
And the curlews cried in the darkness
Where surely land was nigh.

The cry went up in the old time
(God save us from a demon thrall!)
The winds and the waves and the curlews
With the oldest cry of all.

And men cried out in the darkness
To the god of the cruel sea,
To spare their souls in the tumult
And hear their anguished plea.

And the winds and the waves and the curlews
Went on with their endless call;
But the cry of the men for mercy
Was the saddest cry of all.

Mananan, Mac-y-Leir
Mananan, hear oh hear!
Mananan, god of the wave
Mananan, hear and save!

From the might of the sea in the deep of the night,
From the roar in the darkness, the madness of fright,
From the Powers of Ill in the hopeless fight –
Mananan, hear and save!

Is there never an answer heard?
Never an answering word?
Never a hand to save –
Nought but the cruel wave.

In the might of the sea they were drownèd deep,
In the roar of the darkness they sank to sleep,
And the wives and the children were left to weep –
And Mananan could not save.

THE COMING OF THE SAINTS

THE Saints came over from Ireland,
And they heard the curlews cry,
And they knew that in mist and darkness
The land was surely nigh.

Far spent they were and weary
With battling the salt-sea wave,
And far was their home in Ireland
And ever the coracle drave.

And they heard the voice of the waters
And the storm winds took no rest;
But the curlews still were crying
And still they held their quest.

For Patrick had spoken in Ireland
And sent them on their way
To seek through the salt sea-waters
For the Hill of the Rising Day.

But grey was the sea around them
And grey was the mist before,
And full was the air with voices
But never a glimpse of shore.

And ever a space was rifted
By shadowy demon hands
And they watched the Powers of Evil
Warring in grisly bands.

Then Romuil said, “We have battled
And fought through the weary hours
And the mist that is folded around us
May save us from Evil Powers.”

“We will battle and fight no longer
No masterless men are we;
But rest in the Hand of our Master
Who ruleth all Powers that be.”

And they laid them down in the darkness
Nor heeded the leaping wave;
And their sleep was the sleep of children
While ever the coracle drave.

And the winds and the waves and the waters
Went on with their endless call,
But the cry of the men for mercy
Went up to the Power of all.

And behold on the wings of the morning
They floated in Dalby Cove,
And the mist was riven before them
And the sun shone out above.

So the Saints came over from Ireland
To break the demon sway,
And the Light sprang out of the darkness
On the Hill of the Rising Day.

THE BABE OF EAREY CUSHLIN

O sad the lot of babe forlorn
That hath no home in earth or sky,
But sobs along the dark’ning broogh –
“A Babe without a Name am I!”

Scarce launched upon its earthly course,
It had no time to sin or pray;
But all unwelcome, undesired,
Its harmless life was cast away.

Unblest by sign of Holy Cross,
Whose weight, like Christ, it surely bore,
A sinless soul, through dreary space
Thrust out to wander evermore.

It sobs along the lonely broogh,
Where night and darkness fill the sky,
“Oh, pity me! Oh, pity me!
A Babe without a Name am I!”

* * * * * *

Dark was the night and rough the road
The Heiress in her anguish trod;
To frenzy wrought, her only thought
To hide her shame beneath the sod.

Ask not what woeful deed was done
Ere dimly dawned the sombre day;
What madness of despair sent forth
That dreadful cry above the bay!

The sea-mews rose and wheeled and crossed,
White wings against the dark brow’d hill;
And widening circles on the tide
Broke silently, and all was still.

* * * * * *

At Earey-Cushlin blinds are drawn,
And whispers fill the stagnant air,
Wet foot-prints track the silent hall,
And sea weed drips from off the stair.

And on a day the mourners go,
And hymns are sung and prayers are said,
And in the Churchyard’s hallowed ground
They leave one more among the dead.

And should they grudge her hallowed ground
That knew not what despair was hers,
Nor dreamed what madness found her there
In that lone Keeill among the furze?

So mass was sung and prayers were said,
And tender hearts wept tears of pain.
Perchance such tears might help to cleanse
A hopeless soul from sinful stain.

Sad fate was hers; yet might she hope,
Though ages long must pass before,
Through prayers and fears and burning tears
At last to reach the heavenly door.

And then – when purged by cleansing fires
She trembles toward the distant light,
Will she not think of that poor babe
Thrust out to wander through the night!

* * * * * *

So sad the lot of Babe unblest
That hath no home in heaven or earth,
But mourns in its cold winding sheet
About the place that gave it birth.

It may not reach to heaven above,
It may not rest in earth below;
Nor with its lighted taper pierce
The limbo of its outcast woe.

The grey tide leaps upon the rocks,
The sea-mews rise and cross and wheel,
And ever as the darkness falls
The Babe weeps lonely in the Keeill.

And in its trailing winding sheet
Sobs o’er the broogh its piteous cry:-
“Oh, pity me! oh, pity me!
A Babe without a Name am I!”

______

The old man ceased, and in the pause,
We watched the smoke against the hill;
As in a dream he told his tale,
As in a dream we listened still.

His sea-blue eyes though dimmed by years
Saw far beyond our time and space,
And child-like faith in unseen things
Had smoothed the furrows in his face.

His simple creed – to do his best
As guardian of that treasured pile,
Whose ancient towers and ruined choirs
Stand crowned about Peel’s holy Isle.

And leaning on his staff he sat
Beside us in the sunny nook,
Embrasured by cathedral walls
Whose stones were all his sacred book.

Far off in haze we saw the Cronk
That frowns  o’er Earey Cushlin’s strand,
So far remote it seemed to be
As old tales told in fairy-land.

And then one spoke – “Ah, say not so
That sinless souls could thus be left
To suffer for another’s fault
Forever – of all hope bereft.”

“Such hapless souls might rather be
The nurslings of the saints on high,
And learn in gentler worlds than ours
The music of the earth and sky.”

“Alas!” he said, “Those little ones
Who unbaptised have breathed and died,
May never reach the highest bliss –
But still – the Father’s net is wide.”

“And you shall hear how this poor Babe
Was lifted from its grievous plight,
And, by the faith of two poor men,
Set free to reach the blessed Light.”

* * * * * *

From Niarbyl Point to Bradda Head
The great Bay Mooar lies broad and deep,
And here the fishers cast their nets,
While landward folk are lost in sleep.

With steady sweep of heavy oars,
From Dalby strand they make their way,
Before the lingering light has left
The crags of Cronk-ny-Iree Lhaa.

Sometimes the night is loud with storm,
Sometimes the creeping fog comes round,
And sometimes all the moonlit hours
Are holy with a peace profound.

Sometimes between the dusk and dark
The fishers see a glancing spark,
A tiny riding-light;
Now here – now there –
And now a pair,
And now a score,
And everywhere
Around them dancing bright.
And straightway all about them ride
The fairy nickeys on the tide;
And all the air is full of din,
And elfish voices, shrewd and thin,
And creak of spar,
And smell of tar,
And water washing up the side;
While here and there,
And everywhere,
The gentle folk
Are well bespoke,
And room is left for them to ride
In safety on the gleaming tide.
And then a puff
Of wind comes by,
“Oie-vie, oie-vie!” the fairies cry.
And all around the sea is bare,
And not a boat is anywhere!

And that’s the time the men would find
Good luck with all the nets they cast,
And rowing slow with loaded store,
Be home before the night was past.

But other times the fish was scarce,
And some would stay and some would go,
About the Sloc or further out
Or back to sleeping Dalby, row.

And sometimes only one alone
Would drift along the shadowy land,
And in the darkness quake to hear
The Babe at Earey-Cushlin strand.

Two mates were drifting thus one night
In lonely silence on the Bay,
Such silence as old comrades know
That means more than a man can say.

Then spoke at last the younger man –
“The Babe is fretting sore to-night;
And pitiful it is to hear
Its cries up yonder on the height!”

And then the twain began to speak
Of that sad story of the place;
And question why such things should be
And what could limit Saving Grace.

“For seemeth me,” the elder said,
“That babe hath more than common loss,
For it was born on holy ground
Though never named with sign of cross.”

“And seemeth me,” he musing said,
“It must have been so nearly saved,
That even now it might be blest
If any man the deed had braved.”

“And surely God’s own heart must ache
To hear it sobbing through the dark,
And long to have its christened soul
Beside Him in the sheltering ark.”

“Your tender babes are safe at home,
And cradled in their mother’s prayers;
My sturdy sons to manhood grown,
Have long repaid my early cares.”

“The very hawks upon the hill
Watch their fierce brood through calm and storm;
And timid conies in the fern
Keep their soft younglings safe and warm.”

“And will not He who made them all
Watch o’er His little lost ones too,
And, maybe waited till this hour,
For us poor men His Will to do.”

And then the other made reply –
“Let us christen the Babe if that be so,
And if we are doing the Will of the Lord
He will send us a token, that we shall know.”

And these men of the sea stood up in the boat,
That under them gave, and rocked, and swayed,
And their hearts o’erflowed with a mighty faith,
And they spake with God and were not afraid.

And they signed the Cross on the midnight air,
While the lifting billows rolled and fell,
And the star of night was their altar-light,
And the deep sea sounded their vesper bell.

And the elder lifted his sea-worn hand,
And bared to the sky his rev’rent head;
While the younger followed him word by word.
And thus to the Babe they spoke and said –

“If thou’rt a boy thy name shall be Juan,
If thou’rt a girl thy name shall be Joan.”
And the crying ceased and the Babe was still
And the sound of the sea was heard alone.

And a star shot up from the lone dark Keeill
And a soul flew free from the throes of night;
And their eyes were opened that they could see
The Babe’s glad welcome to fields of light.

And they heard the music of harps on high
While the lifting billows rolled and fell,
Till the sun rose over the watching Cronk
And the deep sea sounded their matin bell.

[Keeill — Chapel.]
[Oie-vie — Good-Night.]

WITH THE BOATS

NOW the boats are outward sailing
With the tide,
Do Thou still with watch unfailing,
Guard and guide.
Ruler of the restless sea
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
Hiarn jean myghin,
Chreest jean myghin,
Hiarn jean myghin, ta shin guee!

Now the wreaths of smoke ascending
Fill the air,
Like a cloud of incense blending
With our prayer,
From the land and from the sea
O hear us when we cry to Thee,
Hiarn jean myghin
Chreest jean myghin
Hiarn jean myghin, ta shin guee!

From the sea our eyes are sighting
As we run,
Where at home the lamps are lighting
One by one.
There on shore and here at sea
O hearken when we cry to Thee,
Hiarn jean myghin,
Chreest jean myghin,
Hiarn jean myghin, ta shin guee.

[Hiarn jean myghin, ta shin guee— Lord have mercy, we are praying.]

A SONG OF PRAISE

WHEN I would rise to praise my God
With ever grateful heart,
So much I have to thank Him for
I scarce know where to start.

The swelling buds, the springing green
The blue of April sky,
The gold that paints the buttercups
The thrush’s watchful eye.

The burnished beech that clothes the hedge
When winter’s horn doth blow,
The fairy film of frost that binds
The treasures of the snow.

Sweet spring-time notes at early dawn
Soft showers of summer rain,
The busy sheep dog’s sounding bark
That echoes through the plain,

The curlews on the lonely shore,
The happy lambs at play,
The rising lark, the sailing cloud,
The calm at close of day.

These joys are with us all the year
For them my thanks are given;
And for the power to feel that they
Are surely part of Heaven.

But all that we have now set down
Is but a tiny part,
Of that full tide of thankfulness
That fills my grateful heart.

Nor day, nor year, nor life itself
Could half contain the roll
Of all I have to thank Him for
With heart and voice and soul.

Then bear with me a little space
That I may still rehearse
Some chiefest blessings I can find
To wing my simple verse.

* * * * * *

I thank Him for a life to live
As well as lips to praise,
And for the hope that lies beyond
With ever-widening ways;

For answered prayer, for gifts unsought
For strength by sorrow given;
For power to feel from year to year
That earth is part of Heaven;

For friends whose faith illumes the path
Where dimly still we grope;
For saintly lives lived in our midst
That teach us we may hope.

* * * * * *

I knew not where to start, and now
I scarce can make an end,
So singing as I homeward go
My cheerful way I’ll wend.

THE TASK

FORGIVE, forget — a noble task
Though hard to perfect yet;
But where we cannot all forgive
We may in part forget.

And better in Life’s training school
The standard should be high,
Lest for a place too lightly gained
We should refuse to try.

Sore are the wounds a stranger gives
And sorer far we feel
Some secret spite — and worse than all
The blow a friend may deal.

And even so — yet Life goes on,
And Time with kindly sway
Brings both hands full of happy things
To turn our thoughts away

So finding treasure everywhere,
Our hearts with love imbued
For all that lives and grows and sings
Have little time to brood;

But learning still from day to day
We near the standard set;
And where forgiveness seems too hard
Thank God — if we forget.

HIS HAND

DIDST Thou touch me in my sleep,
Or was it but a dream,
That waked me ere the morning light
Had met the sun’s first gleam.

And though at that most gentle touch
I woke in fear and dread,
The moment passed — I knew Thy Hand
And all my fear was fled

AT MAUGHOLD

THE joyous company of mounting larks
Sing to the quiet dead,
And slumber song of thymy bees is heard
Around their bed;
While nought may vex them there on Maughold’s breast
Nor wake the summer stillness of their rest.

And on the hill their sleeping kinsfolk lie
Beneath the driving gale;
They heed not beat of sun nor whirling blast
Nor winter hail;
But rest as sweetly under storm and snow
As those who shelter with the Saint below.

Enough for One they reached their Home at last
By roads that could not meet,
Until the shining of the sunset light
Showed weary feet
That all those diverse paths that late they trod
Were byways only of the road to God.

EASTER AT CRONK-Y-VODDEY

WE thought the day was ended
When sudden storm of rain,
With darkness swift descended
O’er mountain, moor and plain.
When lo, a ray of clearest light
Lit up the wild hills ere the night.

It flashed through all the mountain glens
And touched the trees with golden fret,
And every cottage window shone
Like jewelled breast-plate newly wet.

Fear not when joys are ended
And youth and hope are fled,
Though lone and unbefriended
The path remains to tread;
For still, some ray of purest light
May meet you on the distant height.

Clear shining after storm and stress,
And sparkling on the tear-wet way,
That light will make your eventide
The brightest jewel of the day.

THE HOMELY MOON

THE homely moon rose broad and full
Beyond the willow trees,
That turned their silvered leaves to her
And rustled in the breeze.

We loved to watch her kindly face,
And think her tender ray
Was falling on our island home
So far — so far away!

To-night she rises broad and fair
Above the twisted larch,
That for a century and more
Has watched her upward march.

I love to see her kindly face,
And know that same soft ray
Is falling on my darling’s grave
So far — so far away!

THE SORROWFUL CROSSING

“Yet sorrow not as those who have no hope.”

O ELLAN VANNIN we are grieving sore,
Lost Ellan Vannin, for the souls you bore
Through that dark crossing to an unseen shore.

What was the story of that last farewell?
Nought but the ocean’s voice remains to tell,
Tolling above them with its endless knell.

O sorrow, sorrow, for the ship that’s lost,
O sorrow, sorrow, for the tears she cost,
But sorrow not for those that safely crossed.

Though through the darkness of the wintry morn
Came that stern call for them ere day was born;
No time to grieve for those they left forlorn!

Though with the blare of that great trumpet blast,
High over head the mighty wave was cast,
From storm to Peace eternal, swift they passed.

O sorrow, sorrow, for the ship that’s lost,
O sorrow, sorrow, for the tears she cost,
But sorrow not for those that safely crossed.

For One came to them on that awful wave,
With loving hands outstretched to calm and save —
Straight to the Port of His strong Arms they drave.

He took the nestling babe to His own Breast,
He drew them safely through the surging crest
Of death’s dark wave to Light, and Peace, and Rest.

Long may we sorrow for the ship that’s lost,
Long may we sorrow for the tears she cost,
But sorrow breaks in joy for those that crossed.

GOOD-BYE

NOW must we leave you where lowly you rest,
Jesu receive you that loveth you best!
Now from your sleeping draw we apart
Lest by our weeping we sadden your heart.

Now must we leave you with tender Good-bye,
Jesu receive you that heareth our cry!
We on the morrow turn to our way,
Left in our sorrow to finish the day.

Bright be the waking! Soon will the morn
Shadows forsaking, spring from the dawn.
He will receive you that loveth you best,
Safely we leave you now to your rest.

BEULAH

“THE sun is rose an’ fell on me
This nearly ninety years,
While I have seen my share of joy
An’ shed a sight of tears.

An’ now I’m in my eighty-nine
An’ goin’ down the hill,
I’m thinkin’ tears have passed me by
But joys are with me still.

I’m takin’ still my daily walk
Along the leafy lane,
An’ by the low white pillar sit
To look on Ballawhane.

The little childher on me smile,
The lovely flowers I see,
An’ through the little everin’
The t’rushes sing to me.”

TO M.L.W.

ON HER BIRTHDAY

FAITHFUL friend, and teacher of that speech
Which surely Angels use in Paradise,
When, rising tier by tier, the white-robed throng
Fill all the space of Heaven with sounding chords
To celebrate the birth of some new world;
Or with soft plaints, as when a sweet babe dies,
And all his company of infant friends
Sob out their little hymns beside his grave;
Or, highest use, when myriad voices ring
With Alleluias through the starry dome
Of that vast hall where our great Leader sits,
And praise the Giver in His glorious Gift —
We fain would greet thee in that speech of theirs,
Though to their harmonies we may not reach;
Yet, learning still, with such as thee to lead
And train the Heavenward ear from day to day
To clearest concord, jarring notes shall cease,
And all our lives be tuned to sweetest song.

O faithful servant of our Island Church
That gave thy best to Him Who placed thee here,
As one pure reed from His own instrument
Vibrating clear from His own perfect touch.
Thy tuneful life is one sweet symphony
That we who love to hear may understand,
And strive to follow till we find our parts
And learn to join the universal song.

O faithful friend and teacher, may the years
Fall soft as rose-leaves on the homeward path!
And may we all as thy loved pupils come
To stand with thee on that high holiday,
When, all earth’s jarring discords at an end,
And all uncertainties of learning cleared,
We swell the music of the morning stars
And join the chorus of the Heavenly song.

THE MOTHER’S CAROL

SING soft and low
Ye winds that blow
And whisper round this quiet shed.
Wake not His sleep
For shadows deep
Are drawing round His sacred Head.

Sing sweet and high
Ye birds that fly,
But gently trill your tender theme;
Lest all too soon
Your joyous tune
Should wake Him from some Heavenly dream.

Sing loud and strong
Ye Angel throng
To Kings and shepherds bear the sign,
That peace on earth
Has come to birth
And lies amid the humble kine.

O let Him rest
In this poor nest,
Where still His Mother softly sings;
For well we know
What tears will flow
Ere sorrows crown Him King of Kings.

THE LITTLE EVERIN’

THE sun is goin’ wes’ with me
The little everin’s nigh,
An’ clearer shines the light upon
Those mansions in the sky;
An’ surely through that level light
The very flowers shine more bright,
An’ all things soften to the sight,
In the little everin’.

The years have slipped away from me
Like snow before the rain;
I would not ask to have them back
Or live them through again;
But thankful at the close of day
To linger on the homeward way
An’ watch the childher at their play
In the little everin’.

The bit of writin’s done at me
That all should have their share,
An’ keep the gable standing yet
With honest toil and care;
An’ now with quiet heart I bide
An’ listen to the sooreyin’ tide
That lures me to the further side
In the little everin’.

There’s some that’s gone away from me
In lands afar to roam;
An’ some that’s gone to wait for me
In that new Heavenly Home.
I see them in the sunset gleam
They speak with me across the stream
An’ all my life becomes a dream
In the little everin’.

[The little everin’–Twilight.]
[Sooreyin’ — Coaxing — alluring.]

NOTES AND APPENDIX

While not professing to be an exact translation of “The Hills of Ellan Vannin,” the following lines in Manx are an attempt to express the same idea in the “shenn ghlare.” To the very few remaining at home and abroad who can still read the Manx I trust they may give pleasure; but I must also ask them to forgive its imperfect rendering, and pardon its many faults. To the kind help of my friend, Miss S. Morrison of Peel, I am indebted for being able to express myself, however feebly, in our beautiful old language; and also for the help and encouragement she has given me in tracing out old traditions and customs.

NY CROINK JEH ELLAN VANNIN

RAAD ta’n eayst myr argid soilshean
Er traie ennagh foddey jeh,
Raad ta’n ghrian goll sheese ayns aalid
Fud feiyr ball’ ec kione yn laa;
Gys yn obbree ayns y valley
Gys yn eerbyrtagh veih ‘hie
Hig myr ashlish Ellan Vannin
Foddey jeh ‘sy chesh ny Ihie.
As t’ad gearree son yn Ellan,
Son nyn ynnid vaghee veen,
Son ny croink jeh Ellan Vannin
Lhondyrnee trooid kesh yn cheayn.

Cheu-hoal jeh ny straidyn chionnit
Raad ta’n ghrian streeu ayns fardail;
Ta ny coanyn sheeoyl cronnit
Er yn er ceaut lesh tooilleil;
Eisht cheu-hoal jeh ‘n slieu fadanagh
Strah dy rio, traie lostee neesht
Girree ta ny croink jeh Mannin
As ta’n eeb’rtagh dreamal reesht;
Gearree foast son Ellan Vannin
Son e ynnid vaghee veen,
Son ny croink jeh Ellan Vannin
Lhondyrnee trooid kesh yn cheayn.

The second collection of poetry by Cushag (Josephine Kermode), Ellan Vannin, was released in 1911.

Cushag (Josephine Kermode) was the best-loved poet of her generation and perhaps the island’s most intriguing playwright; she is one of the most important writers that the Isle of Man has ever known.