Manx Melodies

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 Lana’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.



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 brooillagh 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’.


WHAT was there doin’ on her?
Aw dade, it’s hard to say.
She wasn’ for complainin’
But goin’ – night an’ day.
Aw, well; there’s no wan at me now
To make the bed or milk the cow!

The cough was subjec’ to her,
Aw teerin’, teerin’ still;
She wore it out upon her feet
Yon time that I was ill.
Aw, well; I’m sick enough for all;
But she’s not hearin’ when I call.

The times I’d not be sleepin’
She’d up an’ have a light,
An’ do a bit of readin’ –
But failin’ in her sight.
Aw, well; I’m lyin’ lonely now,
An’ who’s to go an’ milk the cow?

Ay! Goin’ goin’ still,
Nor never warmed a cheer,
It’s like she’ll tire of sittin’ quite,
The way she’ll be up theer,
Like wearin’ out her Sunday gown
An’ longin’ still for us that’s down.

They’re tellin’ me to rise,
Me clo’es is on the chiss,
Aw, well, I havn’ got no heart,
An’ that’s the way it iss!
What use of me above the groun’
The gable of the house is down!



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.


THE lands that should have come to him
Were gone with stock and store.
They dug a little grave for him,
What was he wantin’ more.

The trees that should have grown for him
Had vanished long before.
They carved a little chiss for him,
What was he wantin’ more.

The gown his mother worked for him,
Put ready in the drawer,
Was doin’ a little shroud for him,
What was he wantin’ more.

The Sign of his Inheritance
Upon his brow he bore,
And that was all there was for him,
What was he wantin’ more.


OIE-VIE, oie-vie, ma chree,
My villish veen, oie-vie!
The boats are tossing at the quay,
The tide is rising high.

I go till break of day,
To glean for you, ma chree,
Where silv’ry shoals of sceddan play,
The Harvest of the Sea.

While I’m away, ma chree,
And you are lapped in sleep,
There’s One will watch for you and me,
Whose Path is on the deep.

Fear not the rising wind,
Oie-vie, oie-vie, ma chree;
For He will have us in His Mind,
Who stilled the raging sea.

Fear not the dark’ning night,
For in His Hand we lie,
Who steers us through from dark to light
Oie-vie, ma veen, oie-vie!

The day will break, ma chree,
And home my heart will fly;
To see you on the sunlit quay –
Till then, ma veen, oie-vie!


I HEARD the lark at break of day,
I heard the echoes ring;
A lonely maid, and blithe as they –
What could I do but sing?

But neither lark nor echoes stopped
To listen to my song,
And sometimes into silence dropped –
What could I do but long?

And then one stepping lightly past
Called me his singing dove;
With him to please, the days sped fast –
What could I do but love?

And then! He wearied of my song
And lightly passed me by.
So, left alone to love and long –
What could I do but die?


I WAS down alone in the Moaney,
Nobody else was near,
When my name was goin’ a’callin’
Low an’ sof’ an’ clear.
None was I seein’ aroun’ me,
Never a face of clay;
An’ my name was goin’ a’callin’,
Jus’ at the close of day.

The childher it’s like were callin’,
Wantin’ you they’d be
For a twilight play in the haggart
Under the tramman tree.

None of the childher was near me,
Gone to their homes they were;
An’ my name was goin’ a’callin’
Over the Moaney there.

Daddy it’s like was callin’
Wantin’ your help awhile,
Dhrivin’ the sheep he would be
Over beyond the stile.

Daddy was gone to the mountain,
I saw him against the sky,
An’ my name was goin’ a’callin’
Like a whisper passin’ by.

There’s Them that’s sometimes callin’
Low in th’ everin’ hour,
An’ if you give Them answer
They have you in their power.
A voice when the night is fallin’,
A whisper on the air,
An’ seekin’ to draw you to them
Down in the Moaney there.

Mammy, the voice a’callin’,
Callin’ my name to me,
Was his that long is lying
Cold in the cruel sea.
You’ll lave Good-bye with my Daddy
An’ lay me on my bed –
Chile veen, chile veen, what ails thee!
I answered it, she said.


“MOTHER,” she said, “when you’re not by,
There’s lil wans talkin’ to me,
They’re showin’ me pictures out in the sky,
Where the sun sets over the sea.
Will I lave a piece of my supper,” she said,
“An’ a dhrop of milk in the cup?
D’you think it’s Fayries thass in?” she said.
— I’m thinkin’ ’twas Wans from Up.

“Mother,” she said, “when the nights is long
There’s lil wans comin’ to me.
They’re bringin’ a harp an’ makin’ a song,
An’ houlin’ a light to see.
I’ll lave a bit of my supper,” she said,
“An’ a tase of milk in the cup;
I’m thinkin’ it’s Fayries thass in,” she said,
— But I knew it was Wans from Up.

“Mother,” she said, “my head is sore,
An’ the lil wans is callin’ me;
They say there’s a boat waitin’ down at the shore
To take me a sail on the sea.
Keep by a piece of my supper,” she said,
“An’ lave some milk in the cup;
I’ll go with the Fayries a bit,” she said.
— An’ she went to the Wans from Up.



THERE’S a wickad little falla that goes among us here,
An’ the wickadness thass at him is tellin’ far an’ near;
He’s prowlin’ in the haggart an’ in at every dhure,
An’ coaxin’ an’ persuadin’, – an’ his name is Traa-dy-Liooar.

The house is all through others, the childher’s late for school,
The man is spendin’ all his time in lookin’ for a tool,
The wumman’s tired thremendjus with clearin’ up the flure,
An’ the wan that’s doin’ all the jeel is wickad Traa-dy-Liooar.

The fields is full of cushag, the gates is darned with gorse,
You’ll hardly see the harness for the mire upon the horse;
The cows is shoutin’ shockin’, an’ puzzlin’ them for sure,
Is the waitin’ doin’ on them at that tejus Traa-dy-Liooar.

There’s a power of foes within us, and enemies without,
But the wan that houls the candle is that little lazy lout;
So just you take an’ scutch him, an’ put him to the dhure,
An’ navar let him in again, that tejus Traa-dy-Liooar.


IT’LL be in the teens of years I’m livin’ here alone,
An’ the house is bare at me too, like a ness when the birds is flown;
But the days is lonelier far pas’ what it is in the night,
For then I’m stirrin’ the bons till the house is full of light.

And then I’m seein’ the lumpers all playin’ about on the flure,
With pussy-bogh sthretchin’ her back, and Daa comin’ in on the dhure;
An’ a long little family at us, Henery, John, an’ Lil,
An’ wan that was took at the Angels, an’ Miriam Maud, an’ Bill.

Henery went for a sailor, an’ the ship went down in the night,
But I’m seein’ him readin’ his book when the bons is burnin’ bright;
An’ I’m feelin’ me fut for the cradle, an’ the tear dhroppin’ down from the eye,
For the wan that was took at the Angels when I hadn’t no time to cry.

Johnny was studdy uncommon, an’ terrible fon’ of the lan’,
An’ helpin’ Daa with the bases an’ givin’ us all a han’;
Billy an’ him went foreign – I h’ard they were doin’ well,
But, the name of the place they was to, is beatin’ all to tell.

The gels is married on farmers, an’ bringin’ a boy or a chile
For to see th’ oul’ granny an’ all, an’ be rared at me here for a while;
But I’m all as well by myself, for then in the mids of the night
I can stir up the bons on the chiollagh till the house is full of light.

An’ I sit with a fut on the cradle till the blaze is dyin’ down,
An’ the childher goin’ a-mixin’ with the shaddas creepenin’ roun’;
I’m watchin’ wan an’ another, an’ always her that was took,
An’ Daa comin’ in on the dhure, an’ Henery readin’ his book.


THE quare conthraptions there would be at times
When I was goin’ awakin’ in the night.
I’d see a shadder slippin’ down the stairs
Behind a drowsy blink of candle-light.

Scritch-scratch among the cinders in the grate,
An’ then, the light come leapin’ through the floor
All bars an’ dazzlin’ lines across the room
Between the booards and where the rug was tore.

An’ then a sudden scotch of salty air,
An’ footsteps stoppin’ at the door below,
While all the house was rockin’ with the noise
Of waves an’ shingle teerin’ to an’ fro.

“An well! So long!” I’d hear my father say,
An’ then, “So long,” goin’ callin’ by the crew,
An’ then – it’s like my mother’d give a sigh,
But I was fast asleep before I knew.

An’ still I’m wakin’ when the tide is high,
An’ still the breeze comes through the clappin’ door.
I hear “So long” goin’ echoin’ down the street,
The waves an’ shingle teerin’ on the shore.

An’ for I’m oul’, an’ wore, an’ full of years,
My sleep once broke will not come back to me.
But all the wakin’ hours are not too long
To pray for them that’s out upon the sea.


GRIP me savadge, Miss Geargie,
An’ heis me up in bed,
An’ you can be radin’ them texes
The while I reddy me head.

Can ye see me hanksher, Miss Geargie?
In the bed it’s like it’s los’.
Aw well! the couth of the winter!
Me legs is like sticks of fros’.

An’ the rots is scraerpin’, scraerpin’!
Aw, it’s time poor Kate was took –
No, no, I’ll not have no firin’
For I cannot suffer the smook.

An’ well – Are ye theer, Miss Geargie?
I was dhramin’ a dhrame in the night,
When the win’s took rest from their noisin’
An’ the say was middlin’ quite.

An’ the Lord Himself come down
An’ stud beside the bed,
An’ with thremblin’ fear I heard Him speak:
“Come urrov theer,” He said.

“Come urrov theer, Kate Cowle,” He said.
“An’ go you up on high,
For such as you that’s oul’ and blind
There’s mansions in the sky.”

An’ through the roof an’ through the clouds
Like sthrailin’ through a ford,
An’ singin’ Glo-ry, Glo-ry, while
The waves around us roared.

An’ Glo-ry, Glo-ry, still we sang
Up to the great White Throne –
When suddenly the Light went out
An’ I was here alone!

Are ye plentiful in pins, Miss Geargie,
Them laps for me head is tore;
Well, good everin’ – You’ll be rewahded;
An’ plaze pull to the door.

An’ Glo-ry for ever Glo-ry
An’ a Light for the blind to see –
An’ a lil bit of pudden, Miss Geargie,
If Mayry will spare it for me.


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!


WHAT brings you over the hill to-night?
What makes you look so treih?
Are you hearing soun’s in the win’ to-night?
Or seeing what we can’t spy?

You’re snug an’ warm down here, my son,
In your thatch-house by the shore.
But there’s wan lyin’ out in the storm, my son,
That I think on more an’ more.

Will I take you home to the hill, to-night?
Or will you stop till morn?
You shall sleep in the children’s bed to-night,
And take the road at dawn.

I would gladly stop down here, my son,
An’ with the childher bide;
But there’s wan lyin’ out on the hill, my son.
Is callin’ me to his side.

As I came over the hill to-night
His voice spoke in mine ear –
“Are thou coming soon, my widowed wife,
We are snugly housed up here.”

“The turf grows over our heads, my wife,
The gorse is black and charred;
But we lie as warm up here, my wife,
As any in Maughold Churchyard.”

So it’s time I was takin’ the road, my son,
But bide you where you be:
It’s a road I must travel alone, my son,
An’ he will be waiting for me.

But mind you now what I say to-night –
When you find my senseless clay:
You’ll take me home to the hill that night,
To the grave beside the way.

You’ll lay me there in the gorse, my son,
Where he’s waiting for me still;
I could not rest in my churchyard grave
An’ him lyin’ out on the hill.


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.


JOHNNY an’ me was sweethearts
Many a year gone by,
Stannin’ aroun’ in the haggart,
An’ havin’ a cooish on the sly.
Till “Mayry, Mayry, Mayry, where’s the milk?”
An’ “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, you’ll be took!”
An’ “Dear me heart, wherever is that gel!”
An’ “Bless me sowl, that Johnny should be shook!”

Johnny was goin’ to market
With priddhas, an’ butter, an’ eggs,
An’ of coorse I was runnin’ to meet him,
Jus’ for to soople me legs.
Then “Mayry, Mayry, Mayry! Where’s that gel!”
An’ “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny! Do you hear!”
An’ “Bless me sowl, that Mayry should be shook!”
An’ “Dear me heart, what’s keepin’ Johnny theer!”

Johnny’d be firin’ the chimley
With a wisp of gorse an’ sthrow,
An’ of coorse I was houlin’ the matches
Jus’ till he set it aglow.
But “Mayry, Mayry, Mayry, come you here!”
An’ “Johnny, Johnny, John, come urrov that!”
An “Dear me heart, wherever’s Mayry gone!”
An’ “What in the worl’ is them two at!”

Johnny an’ me was married
Many a year ago,
An’ a fine scotch of childher at us –
Ma word, how the lumpers grow!
Now it’s “Mayry, Mayry, Mayry, min’ the chile,”
An’ “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, wipe your feet;”
An’ I’m spendin’ me time washin’ dishes,
An’ John is kep’ running for meat!


A STRANGER passes this way at night
When the earth is laid to rest:
He pauses before each cottage door
Like a long expected guest.
Is it only a ray of the white moonlight
That falls on the dewy ground?
Or is it the gleam of a Kingly Robe
That sheds such radiance round?

He pauses before each cottage door
When the silence is still and deep:
There are souls that work and souls that rest,
And souls that must watch and weep.
Is it only the track of the children’s feet
That has furrowed the roadway there?
Or is it the print of a Piercéd Foot
That was heavy with human care?

Then to those who weep, and to those who sleep,
And to those who watch and wake,
There comes the touch of a tender Hand
For a suffering stranger’s sake.
Is it only the breath of the balsam pine
That is filling the midnight vale?
Or is it the balm of a Healing Calm
That sweetens the perfumed gale?

For a stranger came to these gentle souls,
And a sick heart craved for rest:
They gave her their love and they gave her their care
And they gave her of all their best.
Is it only the wind in the waving pines
Or the sound of the distant sea?
Or is it the voice of the Stranger Guest –
“Ye did it unto Me.”

Nova Scotia, 1907.


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’.


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!


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.


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!


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 weenin’,
Sittin’ all by himself on the flure –
Oh Mammy! Don’t leave us! They’re comin’,
Thrailin’ in at the crack of the dhure!


WHERE are you going, little Boy Beg,
With your little grey dog an’ all?
I’m going to look for the King an’ Queen,
To see will they cure me for all.

Where will you find them, little Boy Beg,
The King an’ the Queen so high?
I’ll watch from the bank where the bluebells grow
To see will they ever pass by.

How will you know them, little Boy Beg,
When you’ve wandered many a mile?
I’ll know the King by his golden crown,
An’ the Queen by her lovely smile.

How will they see you, little Boy Beg,
With your poor little crutch an’ all?
I’ll be houlin’ my flow’rs an’ makin’ my bow,
An’ the Queen she’ll see me for all.

What will you say to them, little Boy Beg,
When you stand at the carriage door?
I’ll give them a flow’r, an’ they’ll touch my han’,
An’ I’ll never be lame no more.

An’ that very same day the King came by,
An’ the Lady Queen she smiled;
An’ they tuk the flow’r from the little han’,
An’ they put the cure on the child.

Now little Boy Beg can walk an’ run
With his little grey dog an’ all.
God bless the King and his lovely Queen –
But he hadn’t no crown for all!


WHAT are ye shoutin’, Lizzie? I’m comin’ so quick as I can,
An’ what call have you to be talkin’ with every passin’ young man!
The King! What King is there on ye – chut – capers – an’ up these hills!
Aw, well! Is it raelly the King though? An’ me in my dishabills!

Give us a heis up the hedge, gel – we’ll be seein’ handy from theer,
To think of the King of Englan’ comin’ all the way up here!
I’d like to have put a clean brat on me, but I hadn’t no time at all,
For I come so quick as I could the moment I heerd you call.

I min’ they was used to be sayin’ this falla was middlin’ wile,
An’ lashins of gool spent at him since he was a lump of a chile.
But th’ oul’ Queen nussed him clavver, and give him scope for to run,
The knowing that he’d come to when he would have had his fun.

Aw the Lady she was! Ma word! Th’ oul’ Queen that is gone,
That was sittin’ quite’s an earwig, doin’ judgment from her throne,
An’ the high wars goin’ a scutchin’ if they didn’ be mindin’ themselves,
And an eye for the sarvents as well, that there wasn’ no duss on the shelves.

An’ rowlin’ her bonnad ribbons to be all so nate’s a pin,
An’ larnin’ the childher their duty, but spashul this wan that’s in.
It’s like she’d be radin’ the laws to ‘m while sittin’ beside his bed,
The way she’d be havin’ him studdy by the time he’d come to be head.

An’ sarvin’ his time for King, eddicated an’ all for to know,
Aw, a rale grammatical falla – Prince of Wales they were callin’ him to,
An’ was’n it our “Cap’n” Hunter that was with him aboord the ship,
To see that them ignorant haythens was not givin’ none of their lip.

There’s them comin’ though – there – roun’ by Cronk Urleigh, see –
Gerrourra th’ road, Lizzie veen! Is it devoured you’re wantin’ to be
Under the feet of the horses? Stan’ quite, now, for these wans to tell
The pretty the Manx gels is – (The King Passes) – Aw! Well!


RIGHT on the mountain top she poised and stood,
A moment all her rounded splendour showed,
Then leaped in air and took her heavenly road,
Casting her veil o’er valley, hill, and wood,
While old Barrule remained in pensive mood.
Still on she went to some care-free abode,
And never slacked her silver steps or slowed,
Leaving him that one kiss whereon to brood;
But with unruffled calm his quiet might
Watched his own glen nor heeded her a jot,
Till in an ecstasy of sport and spite
She fled into the nearest cloud to blot
With darkness all his world; he heeded not,
Knowing she could not long keep out of sight.


“AN’ was there a dhrop between us?”
That’s what they’re sayin’ still.
An’ never a dhrop was there at all,
But a crowd of wans in the road for all,
An’ sthrivin’ up the hill.

The dawn was barely sthreakin’
An’ a sup o’ rain doin’ in;
But liftin’ as the day grew on,
Like dhryin’ up when the night was gone,
With a scutch o’ risin’ win’.

An’ here was these wans comin’,
An’ creepenin’ up the side,
With a surt of murmurin’, wailin’, soun’
That seemed to be risin’ all aroun’,
Like the soun’ of the weary tide.

There was oul’, an’ young, an’ childher,
All bended under loads;
With beds an’ crocks, an’ spuds, an’ grips,
An’ spinnin’ wheels, an’ taller dips,
All filin’ up the roads.

From Earey Beg an’ Earey Moar,
Over the broken bridge;
Over the pairk at Earey Glass,
By Balla’himmin and up Rhenass,
An’ all along the ridge.

An’ toilin’ up Bearey Mountain,
With that wailin’, sighin’ soun’
As if their hearts were goin’ a-breakin’,
The for their last leave they were takin’,
Wherever they were boun’.

An’ Bearey was roulin’ his cloak,
An’ reachin’ it down his side,
An’ coaxin’ them up an’ lappin’ them roun’,
Till the wailin’ was dyin’ gradjual down,
Like the calm of the ebbing tide.


TIRED an’ oul’ an’ wore
An’ a lif’ at these wans when I’m took!
But the Lord will send in His own good time,
That never His poor forsook.

The walls is goin’ roun’
When I rise for to try for to dhress,
An’ I’m forced to sit by the side of the bed
An’ wait for the house to take ress!

I was middlin’ smart for all
Till the time when I fell in the Glen,
Goin’ up to supper the pigs, the sowles!
An’ the leg was bruk at me then.

The cool’, the coul’, an’ the pain!
An’ the hollerin’ out for Crowe;
An’ the thought of the craythurs wantin’ their mate,
An’ it spilt at me all in the snow!

But Crowe came by at las’,
Goin’ home from the Ramsey mart,
“Them pigs will be wantin’ their mate,” I said,
When they got me home on the cart.

So that’s the way it iss,
An’ I’ll never be sthrayin’ far;
But we mus’ have somethin’ to keep us down,
The stubborn an’ proud we are.

This wumman is good to me, too,
An’ I’m gettin’ the bes’ thass in,
She was rared at me, an’ me darter’s chile,
An’ married on Dicky-the-Win’.

I’m tired an’ oul’ an’ done!
Nor able to stan’ or to roam,
But it’s only to wait for the Lord’s own time,
An’ He will be taking me Home.


POOR Bobby, he thravelled from dhure to dhure,
An’ each wan gev him a piece;
He’d ress on the settle or lie on the flure,
An’ a bit of dhry bread was a feas’.

He had his oul’ cot an’ a bit of a turf,
To keep out the couth of the night;
But it’s up he’d be an’ down at the surf,
As soon as the morning was light.

There’s wans would be urging him out to the Brows,
To be fetchin’ their cattle in,
But Bobby’d be heavin’ hard words at the cows,
‘Twas makin’ his sowl to sin.

Poor Bobby lay down on his dying bed,
An’ “Wumman,” we heard him say,
“Put out them boots an’ that piece of bread,
For I’m goin’ a long, long way.”

The bread was a piece of a barley cake,
The las’ his Mother had made,
Kep’ by him these years for his Mother’s sake,
In the chiss with her Bible laid.

We lef’ him good-night when our work was done,
An’ sof’ we went out on the dhure;
An’ behoul’ ye, next mornin’ poor Bobby was gone –
But his boots was lef’ on the flure.


A COOISH, a kiss, an’ a whisper,
A sooryin’ summer’s day;
Then work an’ childher an’ bother
The ress of the way.

Some takes the road by the Chappal,
An’ some houls on by the Church,
An’ some falls down by the wayside,
Lef’ all in the lurch.

I’m used on the Chappal for all –
It’s homelier like in the dark,
But Himself was took at the Pazon,
An’ larnt for Parish Clerk.

They’re coming to see me reglar –
Church wans an’ Chappal wans too;
An’ I’m not sayin’ no ill of neither –
It’s juss how we’ve grew.

The Church wans is middlin’ free,
An’ passin’ the time o’ day,
An’ Church was in before the Chappal,
As th’ oul people say.

The Chappal wans is high, though,
More prouder an’ wearin’ falls,
An’ the power of fine discoorsin’
Thass at them when they calls.

But Church houls out her arrums
For every chile that’s born;
An’ it’s Her that puts the blessin’
On the marriage morn.

When the work an’ bother is over,
An’ childher have left us to roam,
Like a tandhar oul’ nursing mother
The Church brings us home.

An’ then whether Church or Chappal,
Or fell by the way – we must come;
For without never makin’ no difference,
The Church brings us Home.


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
From souls in a demon thrall;
But the winds’ and the waves’ and the curlews’
Was 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 drowned 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 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.


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 grey
Where brooded at the Break of Day
His Holy Dove.


JOHN the Priest of Corna dale
Late crowned with scholar’s bays;
Now sent to teach a rustic flock,
Had cursed his dreary days.

Far on the slopes of North Barrule
The Corna valley lies;
And far remote the lonely keeill
That seems so near the skies.

So few and simple were the folk
And scattered through the vale –
What honour should a scholar find
In savage Corna dale?

Now John the Priest he laid him down
Upon his pallet bare;
And John he heard or dreamed he heard
Soft voices in the air.

“Glory to God” they sang once more
As heralds from on high;
And John he rose or dreamed he rose,
But nought could he espy.

Grey sheets of mist were rolling up,
And pouring through the vale;
When through a rift shone steps of gold –
From Heaven to Corna dale.

And John he saw, or thought he saw,
Or dreamed he thought he saw,
His Master on those shining steps,
And bowed himself in awe.

“My Corna sheep are dear to me
As any in the fold,
My Corna dale is near to me
As Lebanon of old.

Thine is the work to save these sheep,
Thy glory let it be,
For every soul in Corna dale
Thou, John, wilt answer me!”

The cloud uplift: the sun sprang up
And sparkled through the vale;
A score of pearly smoke-wreaths rose
To Heaven from Corna dale.

Then John the Priest stretched forth his hands
And blessed the rising sun,
And blessed the simple folk around,
And taught them one by one.

No book nor scrip could there be found;
But on rough slabs of rock
He cut and graved as best he might
The lessons for his flock.

And that himself should ne’er forget
His vision in the vale,
He carved – “Of all the sheep is John
The Priest in Corna dale.”

Far on the slopes of old Barrule
Lone lies the ruined keeill
And there the words of John the Priest
In Runes are living still.


A lil oul’ ghos’ was used to go
About the roads an’ to an’ fro,
An’ sighin’ in a lonely place
With long coul’ breath upon your face,
An’ little shifty noises at him
Close behind your footsteps, drat him;
The stick goin’ twitchin’ from your han’
An’ follerin’ sobbin’ if you ran.
Aw well, he never hurted me
A fair considerate ghos’ was he.

What was he doin’ urrov his bed,
Puttin’ decent folk in dread?
Why couldn’ he lie an’ be takin’ his res’
An’ a fine new stone at him cut with the bes’?
High-minded its like, that he wouldn’ stay
With the neighbours roun’, respectable clay?
Aw no, the poor fella, but scratchin’ his head
To see what he’d do when the scrolls would be read,

An’ the worl’ through-other an’ all upset,
An’ him so held that he couldn’ get,
An’ sobbin’ an’ sighin’
An’ peekin’ an’ spyin’
To see could he meet with an’ oul’ pair of shears;
Aye, so it appears,
That’s the for he was carryin’ on
An’ sniffin’ about when the light was gone;
Aw well, the poor falla, aye, whisper it close –
You see there was knots at the ghos’!

The lil oul’ ghos’ got tejus though,
An’ time, they said, that he must go
‘Twix’ bark an’ bole, an’ some were sayin’
‘These ghoses should be goin’ a-layin’
By Romish Priests, for th’ ancient Faith
Will not be bet by butch or wraith,
An’ plenty Romans coming here
For change an’ holly every year
(Them boys that’s larnt at Stonyhurst)
So let them send an’ find the first
That for a crown would do it for ’em
An’ fix the ghos’ in the billey-gorrym.

Aw then there was talkin’, an’ writin’ an’ jowin’
An’ askin’ advice from them that was knowin’;
An’ a passel of Romans agreed for to try
For sake of the practice to put him by –
But would you believe it, the lil oul’ ghos’
Was scandalous vext to be druv to a pos’;
An’ behoul ye nex’ everin’ when all was ready
An’ lights in their fisses burnin’ steady,
With all in procession and lookin’ so gran’
An’ the Latin goin’ rowlin’ like tunes on the ban’,
He took an’ defied them, an’ flippin’ and flyin’
He puffed out the lights with his sobbin’ an’ sighin’.
An’ gabblin’ the Latin a line ahead,
They couldn catch up with him, fast as they read.

But one boul’ buoy was among them though
That kep’ his cannel safe aglow,
An’ he took an’ he threw it, droppin’ with talla
Right into the mids of the lil oul’ fella,
Or into the place where he heard him sigh,
An’ I wouldn’ be so rude as to tell you a lie.
Then over the Latin he tore like blazes,
Pishag as gabberash, desperat’ phrases,
Hebrew an’ Greek an’ Gaelic an’ all
Till the lil’ oul’ ghos’ begun for to crawl
Over the road, an’ goin’ an’ goin’
With the boy-bogh follerin’ jowin’ an’ jowin’,
Till sniffin an’ sighin’
An’ sobbin’ an’ cryin’
He got him tucked up in th’ oul’ billey-gorrym
An’ for seven long years was the gaysh doin’ for him.

Well, well, is it thinkin’ of movin’ you are,
An’ deed but the daylight will not be far,
The way an’ oul’ falla like me gets talkin’
An’ keepin’ you here when you should have been walkin’;
What is it you’re askin’ – how long ago?
(My word, but the night is so black as a crow). –
An’ I wouldn’ be so rude as to tell you a lie,
Seven years this night they were puttin’ him by!


They’re in Glen Aldyn still
Whatever you may say;
I’ve seen them round about the mill
I’ve met them coming down the Gill,
And underneath the bridges
They’re just as thick as midges
At their play.
But don’t you speak a word
For you’ll be overheard,
And in a crack the place is dark!
Not a glimmer, not a spark,
Nor sight or light of fairy feet
Where the tumbling waters meet.
Only up above the trees
Stirring softly in the breeze
A laugh – Ha, ha!
And then afar
The echoes ringing to the sound
Of their singing all around.
And little hands are plucking at your hair,
And unseen voices mock you everywhere.
And suddenly the river seems to brim
With full tumultuous music, and a whim
Is in your mind that you’ll forget
That you are you,
Or what, or who,
Or whither set!
And treading softly in the Middle World
Lest by too rash adventure you be hurled
Headlong into the work-a-day again;
You find yourself on fairy pinions borne
Hither and thither like the thistledown
That flutters shimmering on the shallows brown
Lying below the fields of ripening corn.
And all the glen is in a rainbow mist
With pearly colours that the sun has kissed.
The roses fling aloft their top-most sprays
In gardens all along the water-ways,
A lark is singing somewhere in the blue
And through the mist the wood-doves’ coo
Comes dreamily upon the sense,
Till all becomes so tense
That in a corner of your brain
A bit of you awakes again,
Longing to share these happy things
With others who have found their wings.
Then children’s voices break upon your dream
At play like fairies in the sunny stream;
And laughing girls are bathing hands and faces
Where briar rose with tramman interlaces
To form a tiring-room for simple graces.
And never fear
But somewhere near,
About the mill
Or up the Gill
The fairy-folk are round about –
That merry shout!
Was it a child, or the Fairy-Host,
Was it a girl or a merry ghost?
Fairies and children you’ll find them still
Down at the bridges or up at the mill.


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 footprints track the silent hall,
And seaweed 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.

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!

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.


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’.

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’.


BEG: Little.
BILLEY GORRYM: Holly tree; lit. blue tree.
BONS: Sticks gathered for fuel.
BROOGH: Edge of low cliff.
BROOILLAGH: Broken meats.
CHIOLLAGH: The open hearth.
COOISH: A chat.
COUTH: The cold.
CRONK-NY-IRREE-LHAA: Hill of the Rising Day.
CUSHAG: Ragwort.
GAYSH: A holding spell.
JEEL: Mischief.
KEBEG: Call to the calves.
KEEILL: Early Celtic Church.
LAG-NY-KEEILLEY: Hollow of the church.
MA CHREE: My heart.
MOANEY: Turfy bogland.
MOOAR: Great.
OIE-VIE: Good night.
RHULLIC: Burial-ground.
SCEDDAN: Herring.
SOORYIN’: Smiling; courting.
VEEN: Dear.

“Poems that will be cherished as long as there is any Manxness left in the Manx people.”

Often spoken of as her Collected Works, the 1922 publication of Manx Melodies brought together most of Cushag’s best and most loved poems.

Having published Poems by Cushag in 1907 and Ellan Vannin in 1911, Cushag brought out her third and final book of poetry at the age of 70, the year in which she moved from Ramsey to Douglas to accompany her brother, P. M. C. Kermode, on his taking up the Directorship of the newly-opened Manx Museum.

Manx Melodies would be better described as a Selected Works, collecting together, as it does, only some of the poems from the earlier books that brought her to the attention, and hearts, of Manx people around the world. Amongst the poems in this collection are many that were recited or sang at Manx gatherings all over the world during her lifetime and for decades after. Poems such as ‘Traa-dy-Liooar’ are still well known today, not least through its appearing on Manx themed paraphernalia in shops around the Island.

Manx Melodies is noteworthy for its pronounced Manxness – something all the more remarkable in that it was produced by a London publisher. This Manxness comes out in the use of Manx dialect in most of the poems (with a helpful glossary at the end of the book), and by Cushag’s choice of Manx folklore, stories and themes for her poems. Like her plays based on Manx folklore, many of the stories behind these poems can be found in Sophia Morrison’s Manx Fairy Tales. This is hardly surprising as Cushag and Sophia Morrison were good friends and often went folklore collecting together. They were together a part of the wider circle of people working to protect and strengthen Manx culture against its erosion at the start of the 20th Century. The poems of Manx Melodies, like nearly all of what Cushag wrote, was a part of this attempt to strengthen our Manxness.

But as well as its Manx credentials Manx Melodies shows perfectly the clear brilliance and power of Cushag’s poems themselves. It is this book that confirmed Cushag as one of the best and best-loved writers that Isle of Man has ever known.

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.