The Pier and Bay of Douglas

The Pier and Bay of Douglas;
Forget Me Not from the Isle of Man in a Series of Marine Poems

Here, often, with careless foot I stray,
When the tranquil Summer eve is closing,
And watch the light of the Sun’s last ray,
On the calm green depth of the Bay reposing.

To the Stranger in Douglas.

With the view to add another string to the Lyre of the Stranger’s enjoyment, and contribute to the fund of the imaginative felicity, of those accomplished circles who make “Walking on the Pier” a part of their amusement, the Author sends this trifle into the world. — The style is simple, equable, and unambitious, but the subject in itself, and independent of the writer, is sublime. The Pier is, indeed, but a diminutive though an invaluable gem. Like a solitary snow-drop, it endeavours to escape observation amidst the waste in which it smiles. Though its beauty be of the most attractive kind when laid open to view, the flower is so small and retiring, that many Strangers pass over the spot where it grows without seeing it. It is, in fact, a Picture, or, rather, a Miniature, touched by the pencil of a Fairy. It would make a delicate subject for Ariael to paint in the tender leaf of a cowslip. No! no Artist could possibly do it justice, but he who paints in words, to the soul as well as to the sense. But, notwithstanding, as every Stranger will here find subjects suited to his taste, the Author hopes that his little book will merit a favourable reception amongst the lovers of the Pier, and that it may ultimately become the popular “Forget Me Not,” of the Isle of Man.

T. Ashe.

Douglas, May 12, 1825.

Descriptive of Douglas, the Pier, and the Bay.

Seat of my youth! dear beauteous place,
With grandeur crown’d, and deck’d with grace;
Like Baiae famed in classic song,
What varied charms to thee belong!
Thy southern cliffs’ proud summit crown,
And sternly o’er the ocean frown!
They many a rolling year have stood
The raging of the wint’ry flood,
Defied the foe’s terrific storm,
And braved his rage in every form!
On the Bay’s convex sloping side,
Stands thy fair Town in graceful pride,
The foot presented to the wave,
Returning tides obsequious lave;
Alternately by night and day,
They flow, and constant homage pay.
The beauteous Crescent of thy strand,
The coves, the promontories grand,
Thy Duke’s retreat, the mount above,
Where crystal springs salubrious move,
The rocks in wild confusion hurl’d,
Like relics of an earlier world;
The mighty sea, the far seen sails,
Swift wafted by auspicious gales! —
O seat beloved! O ‘dopted home,
On thy smooth beach entranc’d I roam,
With raptur’d eye, and mind serene,
Admire the grandeur of the scene;
Or climb, at early dawn, the steep,
To mark the SUN relume the deep,
When banishing the shades of night,
He gilds the sea with orient light:
Or view the Ocean’s varied forms,
In summer calms, in winter storms.
Stretched on the bank in careless ease,
Fann’d by the sea-refreshing breeze,
Pleas’d I survey thy placid main,
The beauties of the liquid plain,
That like some mirror polish’d high,
Reflects the radiance of the sky;
And listen to the murmurs bland
Of rippling waves that wash the strand,
While stately ships in gallant pride,
Smooth o’er its lucid bosom glide,
And to the raptur’d sight display
Their swelling sails and streamers gay —
But when stern winter-gales arise,
And waves on waves assault the skies;
While death in most terrific form,
Rides furious on the awful storm,
The toiling sailors scarce can keep
Their ships from foundering in the deep;
But struck with awe, in dread despair
For refuge to the Port repair —
And when the tempest howls around,
Still, in the melancholy sound,
I trace the storms of human life,
The battle clang, the mortal strife,
The wounded sailor’s dying groan,
The widow’s plaint, the orphan’s moan:
With anguish keen, the wrecks deplore,
Wide scatter’d on the sea-beat shore;
Or hail the Life-boat, form’d to save
The mariner from a watery grave.
But, HE, who sits enthron’d on high,
The Ruler of the earth and sky,
At whose command the tempests cease,
And foaming waves are calm’d to peace,
Can check ambition’s fiery chase,
Arrest the Tyrant in his race,
Make warring powers, at his word,
Obedient, sheathe the ruthless sword —
The landscape’s varied charms display,
Romantic hills, and prospects gay;
The fertile vales, the pastures green,
With flocks and heards promiscuous seen
The flow’ry meads that bloom around,
The fields with golden harvest Crown’d,
The scatter’d farms, the cots so neat,
And villages in calm retreat,
With groves remote, devoid of cares,
Collected charms the sight acquires —
Sequester’d scenes that soothe the breast,
And lull the anxious soul to rest.

Sovereign of all, vouchsafe to smile
On favour’d MONA’s sea-girt Isle,
For virtue famed, and female grace
With matchless charms of form and face,
In freedom, as in peace, renown’d,
Transcendency with wisdom crown’d;
Still sustain her sacred cause,
Religion, Liberty, and Laws;
Preserve the fabric of Manx sway,
Till earth, and seas, and skies decay.


The dawn of day returns — Nature revives,
And rising from the dark abyss of night,
Again in all her varied beauties lives,
Calling a new creation into light.

The eastern sky, tinged with the blush of morn,
Thro’ heaven’s high vault, pours its lucific streams,
While golden rays the rosy air adorn,
And Phoebus spreads his all-refulgent beams.

The tuneful lark, sweet herald of the day,
Up-borne in ether chaunts its early strain;
And feathered choristers on every spray
Fill with wild harmony the woody plain.

The herds that in the vale the sweet heath crop,
To welcome day their lowings rude employ;
The gentle lambkin on the mountain’s top,
Frisks round its dam, and, raptur’d, bleats its joy.

And in the stream, that winds its shallow course
Along the margin of the Nunnery’s wood;
And in the em’rald Ocean, murmuring hoarse,
Disportive play the tenants of the flood.

All! then if youth’s gay season cheer his day,
What soft emotions o’er man’s bosom reign;
He bows a willing slave to love’s sweet sway,
Its hopes and fears, its pleasures and its pain.

On seeing it distinctly rise from the Pier Head.

The Moon, the Moon is thine, O Night,
Not altogether dark art thou;
Her trembling crescent sheds its light,
Trembling and pale, upon thine ancient brow.

The Moon is thine, and round her orb
A thousand sweet stars minister,
Whose twinkling rays dark wells absorb,
And all the wide seas drink them far and near.

They kiss the wide sea, and sweet smiles
Of gladness o’er the waters creep:
Old hoary rocks rejoice, and Isles,
And there is glory on the slumb’ring deep.

Afar — along the black hill’s side,
Right blithe of heart the wanderers go,
While that soft radiance, far and wide,
Glows on the winding streams and woods below.

And gaily for the fragile bark,
Through the green waves its path is shorn,
When all the murmurs of the dark
Cold sea lie calmed beneath that gliding horn.

Yet hail, ye glittering streaks, that lie
The eastern mountain tops upon!
Hail, ye deep blushes of the sky,
That speak the coming of the bridegroom Sun!

Hail to the balmy beam of day,
That rouses every living tiring;
The forest glooms confess thy sway,
And upon fresh’ning branches glad birds sing.

And loathsome forms, that crept unseen
Beneath the star-light, faint and wan,
Cower in their brakes the thorns between,
Dreading that fervid eye, and its sure scan.

Triumphant! welcome life and light:
Sing rocks and mountains, plain and sea!
Fearful, though lovely was the night,
Hail to more perfect beauty — hail to Thee!

On perceiving it agitated and beating against the Pier.

Well pleased I look upon thee, Ocean! once again
A Christian “lays his hand upon thy mane,”
And fears thee not — for him no terrors roll
Who owns his Saviour’s, and thy Lord’s controul.

The chambers of thy dwelling-place shall fall
Whelm’d in the wreck of waters, at the call
Of th’ Archangel’s voice, and thy troubled breast
With mine, shall sink in everlasting rest.

Thou sea immeasurable, and deep profound?
Hark to the final Trumpet’s awful sound!
List to that voice which bade the Tempest cease,
Hush’d thy wild waves, and gave the whirlwind peace.

List from thy lowest couch, and farthest bounds,
“Thou sea give up thy dead,” the trumpet sounds,
Wide rend thy fathomless abyss — dark Ocean’s womb,
Yield up thy countless tenants from the tomb!

Occasioned by noticing the excessive Transparency of the Water immediately under the Pier Head.

Sweet, sweet Bay! in thy cool and glassy bed
The form of things around reflected lie
With all the brightness of reality,
And all the softness which thy wave can shed —
As clear as if within thy depths were laid
Some brighter world beneath that pictur’d sky;
But with the thought the vision passes by
Before the rising breeze, and all is fled.
So on the stream of life, all bright and gay,
A thousand pleasures, glitter to the view,
Which Hope enlightened with her fairest ray
And Fancy colours with her richest hue;
But with the breath of Truth they pass away,
Like thine, sweet, sweet Bay — fair, but fleeting too.

On visiting Mona Crescent, near Douglas.

Ye boiling waves, dash on! and proudly tell
Your mighty conquests to the awe-struck shore,
For there is rapture in the billowy swell,
For there is music in its wildest roar.

Oh! I do love with heedless step to roam,
Where craggy rocks o’erhang the mystic deep;
Where dreary phantoms sail on curling foam,
Or, rock’d by whirlwinds, on the surges sleep!

Say, dread profound! beneath thy darkening flood,
What stores of wealth, unknown, oblivious lie?
What dazzling brilliants, gem the drear abode
With kindling lustre, hid from mortal eye?

Oh! say what myriads, there, unconscious rest
Engulph’d, alike, their every joy and woe;
With soothing cares, with holy rites unblest,
Their lonesome grave, the huge abyss below?

Suns rise and set, yet break not on their gloom;
The morning star for them beams all in vain;
Unwelcom’d now their native flow’rets bloom,
Unheard, the woodland warbler pours his strain.

Strange that a day shou’d come when haunts most dear,
The home of childhood wakes no kindly glow;
When hopes fond fluttering smiles no longer cheer,
And friendship’s accents all unheeded flow!

Yet so with us — these angry waters still
Shall rage unwearied, and like mountains roll,
When mute the voice that wak’d emotions thrill,
When dim the eye that languish’d forth a soul.

Then why, if all that seems on earth most bright
But blooms to fade, as idle dreams expire,
Why glows within this spark of restless light,
The quenchless remnant of an unfed fire?

Say, must it die? — oh, no! the flame divine
Was caught from HIM who gave creation’s ray:
Great source supreme! it pants with thee to shine,
In splendour lost amid perfection’s day!

There, near thy throne, our blissful souls would bend,
With friends of earth whose converse now we love;
Adoring there, one mingling chorus blend,
And sing with Angels to the harps above.

On the Beach of the Bay of Douglas.

See yon Castle so fair, where the woodbine and rose
Unite on its walls, and together repose;
See yon Castle, by nature so favour’d and blest,
With its back to the hills, and its front to the east;
Where summer sheds beauties that all must extol,
Yon lovely abode is the seat of Duke ATHOL.

How fresh blows the air, and how fair are the flowers,
That bloom all around and enliven its bowers;
Here the heart is made glad, and delights to declare,
How fruitful the prospect around, and how fair;
And peace and content, and the sweetest of slumber,
Are nightly encourag’d by Ocean’s sweet murmur.

At the silence of eve, when the leaves are all still,
When the air is scarce felt on the verge of the hill;
How delightful to wander along the green way,
Ere the moon gilds the dew-drop that hangs on the spray;
When is heard smoothly dashing the skiff’s gentle oar,
And the billow, as gentle, that dies on the shore.

In that little wood, where no footsteps intrude,
To mar the enjoyment of calm solitude,
I have sat — and so free was my bosom from pain,
I’m resolved to be found there again and again:
O ’tis pleasing to quit the rude world and its noise,
To cherish that quiet my spirit enjoys.

On yon banks, now so gay, doomed to flourish and fade,
By summer and winter, that vary their shade,
It might please you to witness each near-passing sail,
With their sweeps in the calm, and a reef in the gale;
As o’er the dread depth of the waters they glide,
Borne along by the ebb or the flowing of tide.

All health to their Graces who claim this abode!
And joy to their bosoms on life’s chequer’d road!
Long, long may they live to inhabit the place!
The same to their offspring, who keep up their race;
Who may traverse these walks, and may visit yon shore,
When the Poet and Parents can visit no more.

I love the fair spot, all embosom’d in wood,
From whence you may gaze on the high-swelling flood;
And O! when my days have arrived at their bourne,
Since whatever is earthly to earth must return,
When the cares of this life no longer encumber,
May this form repose as near Ocean’s mild murmur.

From Douglas Pier and Bay.

The gallant Ship is out at sea,
Proudly o’er the water going;
Along her sides the billows flee;
Back in her wake, a river flowing;
She dips her stem to meet the wave,
And high the toss’d foam curls before it:
As if she felt the cheers we gave,
She takes her flight
Where the sea looks bright,
And the sun in sparkles flashes o’er it.

Gallantly on she cuts her way,
And now in distance far is fleeting;
There are some on board whose hearts are gay,
And some whose hearts are wildly beating:
Loud was the cheer her seamen gave,
As back they sent her our welcome cheering;
Many a hand was seen to wave:
And some did weep,
Arid fondly keep
Their gaze intent when out of hearing.

They have parted, and now are far at sea —
Heaven send them fair and gentle weather!
They part not for eternity;
Our hands shall soon be link’d together;
The sea was smooth, and the sky was blue,
And the tops of the ruffled waves were glowing,
As proudly on the vessel flew,
Like the feather’d king
On his balanced wing,
To a distant land, o’er the ocean going.

By a Lady.

Thou com’st fair Bark, in gallant pride,
Thy swan-white sails exulting spread;
Nor I the graceful triumph chide,
For silent are the tears I shed.

Ere while when thou wert distant far,
Wand’ring on ocean’s faithless waste,
I hailed thee as my pilot-star,
By thee my devious course was traced.

To thee, as to a hallowed shrine,
My sighs, my prayers, were all address’d:
Thy pride, thy honour, seemed but mine,
And in thy safety was my rest.

But now, though trophies deck thy brow,
A mournful wreck alone I see;
For he who warmed each ardent vow,
No more a welcome asks of me.

He should have lived! for fortune owed
The kind redress withheld too long,
Whilst he, life’s dark and dreary road
Had still beguiled with hope’s sweet song.

He should have lived! – in suffering schooled,
But ne’er with fancied wrongs oppressed,
For nature still o’er sorrow ruled,
And peace his guileless soul possessed.

Unskill’d in caution’s rigid lore,
He scorned suspicion’s gloomy sway:
Deceived, he trusted as before,
And dreams illumed each passing day.

And still in Mona’s happy isle,
His little fairy home was placed;
Domestic love, affection’s smile,
Were all the joys he sighed to taste.

How blest, to strive with toil no more,
To live for social cares alone,
To soothe the ills that others bore,
As none had ever soothed his own.

How fair the scene by fancy cast,
Rich with affection’s balmy breath!
Ah! dream! the loveliest of the last
That gilds the dark hour of death.

Even on his wandering soul it smiled,
When hitting shades around him pressed
A transient gleam of joy beguiled
His pangs — one moment he was blessed.

He saw the partner of his days,
Hailed each loved friend with ancient claim,
And with a tender, lingering gaze,
Responded to the father’s name.

And then he would a blessing breathe,
A pledge of Christian faith impart,
And, with a dower of love, bequeath
The latest counsels of his heart.

But then he saw the phantoms fade;
He gazed on strangers rude and cold —
His last fond look was hope betrayed;
His parting sigh a wish untold.

That sailed from Douglas Bay and was “never heard of more.”

Her mighty sails the breezes swell,
And fast she leaves the lessening land,
And from the shore the last farewell
Is waved by many a snowy hand;
And weeping eyes are on the main,
Until its verge she wanders o’er;
But from the hour of parting pain,
That Bark was never heard of more!

In her was many a mother’s joy,
And love of many a weeping fair;
For her was wafted, in its sigh,
The lonely heart’s unceasing prayer:
And, oh! the thousand hopes untold
Of ardent youth, that vessel bore;
Say, Were they quenched in waters cold?
For she was never heard of more!

When on her wide and trackless path
Of desolation, doomed to flee,
Say, sunk she ’midst the blending wrath
Of racking cloud and rolling sea?
Or, where the land but mocks the eye,
When drifting on a fatal shore?
Vain guesses all — her destiny
Is dark — she ne’er was heard of more!

The moon had twelve times changed her form,
From glowing orb to crescent wan:
‘Mid skies of calm, and scowl of storm,
Since from Douglas that ship hath gone;
But ocean keeps its secret will,
And though we know that all is o’er,
No eye hath seen — no tongue can tell
Her fate — she ne’er was heard of more!

Oh! were her tale of sorrow known,
‘Twere something to the broken heart,
The pangs of doubt would then begone,
And fancy’s endless dreams depart:
It may not be! — there is no ray
By which her doom we may explore;
We only know she sailed away,
And ne’er was seen nor heard of more!

Comparison between the Steam Boats and the sailing Smacks that frequent Douglas Bay.

If smack to England thou would’st wish to go,
Then, gentle reader, go not in a Smack,
Because accommodation’s but so-so,
And, if the wind’s not fair, she can but tack:
And if, as sometimes does, it comes to blow,
Long sickness makes thee wish that thou wert back;
So, taking all things into view, I deem
Thy best and wisest plan’s to go by Steam.

About fifteen shillings the cabin fare;
And when thy parting friends sigh out farewell,
The wish is granted. Seated on thy chair,
When sounds the breakfast or the dinner-bell,
With roasted, boiled, and baked, I know not where
Thou could’st fare better, save in an hotel; —
But men of moderate incomes it don’t suit
To pay maids, waiters, and somewhat to boot<.em>.

Her library has standard works — with those
Of Campbell, Byron, Scott — the mighty three;
Upon its shelves, the authors that repose
Of rank more varied than her inmates be:
Fast by the Scottish novels shew their nose —
In native calf of vulgar pedigree —
Sir Andrew Wylie and his brethren — rife
With all that’s low in language and in life.

But I am wandering widely from my theme;
Digression is a growing fault, I find —
So to the point again – I sing of Steam;
Our bark glides swiftly with, or without wind:
On the calm sea while other vessels seem
Like sleeping turtle, lingering far behind,
She rushes onwards with unslackened speed,
And passengers who will not sleep, must read.

Her mighty engine-wheels, with splash and splutter,
And power of hundred horses, churn the ocean;
’Tis pity that such churning makes no butter:
On, on she sweeps, with vibratory motion,
Much faster than a pleasure-boat or cutter;
And, for all her speed, I have a notion
She would not “walk the waters” in high gales
So well as vessels fitted with good sails.

Hark to the summons, “Dinner’s on the table!”
Hark to the clattering of the knives and forks —
The rising uproar of the ocean Babel;
The only silent one is he that works,
Shutting his mouth as fast as he is able;
While ever and anon, the starting corks
Fir’d in your face by furious ginger-beer,
Cause sudden starts of momentary fear!

But hapless he, the wight, whose lot is cast
Before a mighty round of corned beef,
He, luckless wretch, must help himself the last,
His time of eating, too, be very brief,
And half the dishes from the board be past,
Ere general taste yet sated, gives relief:
Warned by his fate, choose thou position where
Potatoes only claim thy humbler care.

Another scene succeeds: a sudden qualm
Comes o’er each bosom, with the rising squall;
Sea-sickness comes, for which there is no balm,
Not even the balm of Gilead, curing all
Our other ills — alike in storm or calm,
It baffles human aid, and you may call
For ought that medicine has art and part in,
You’ll find “’tis all in my eye and Betty Martin!”

Then beauty’s head declines; her pensive eye
Looks sadly o’er the dark and heaving billow;
And through her tresses, as the rude winds sigh,
She leans above the wave like drooping willow,
“And dull were he that heedless pass’d her by,”
Nor handed her a chair, and brought a pillow!
‘Tis strange, a meal prevented from digesting,
Should make a woman look so interesting.

She seems so helpless, and so innocent,
Still as a lake between the summer even;
A bright and beautiful embodyment
Of calm and peace, and all we dream of Heaven;
A sight to shake an Anchorite or Saint,
‘Gainst Beauty’s smiles successful who have striven?
A pretty woman, like a sight of wonder,
Makes men “turn up their eyes like ducks in thunder.”

My Bark’s at Liverpool; and so adieu!
My song and subject cease together there.
Oh! wonder-working Steam, what thou may’st do,
Where is the Prophetic Spirit to declare?
By thee we make broad cloth — hatch chickens too;
We roam the seas — we yet may traverse air;
Nay, do not laugh, if I should fondly dream,
We yet may manufacture POEMS by Steam!

On Observing the Bay in a Calm from the Pier Head.

The summer Sun had set! — the blue mist sailed
Along the twilight Bay, — no sounds arose,
Save such as hallow Nature’s sweet repose,
And charm the ear of Peace! Young zephyr hailed
In vain the slumb’ring echo! In the grove
The song of night’s lone bird, sweet Philomel,
Broke not the holy calm; the soft notes fell
Like the low-whisper’d vows of timid love.
I paused in adoration — and such dreams
As haunt the pensive soul, intensely fraught
With silent, incommunicable thought,
And sympathy profound, with fitful gleams,
Caught from the memory of departed years,
Flash’d on my mind, and woke luxurious tears.

On seeing a Vessel sink between the Pier Head and Fort Anne.

Behold yon proud Vessel, whose sides cut the deep,
And whose sails are unfurled to the wind:
She skims o’er the sea with a felicitous sweep,
And leaves the spray foaming behind.

The picture is chang’d: O behold how the wave,
Which was calm but the hour before this,
Now swells, and now rages; — fear seizes the brave,
And wide opens the yawning abyss.

The sea rushes in, and the vessel must sink:
The cries of her men rend the sky:
They think on the grave, for they stand on the brink –
’Tis over, — she sinks — and they die.

On Viewing the Wreck Alluded to in the Preceding Lines.

What hid’st thou in thy treasure-caves, and cells?
Thou hollow-sounding and mysterious main!
— Pale glistening pearls, and rainbow-colour’d shells,
Bright things which gleam unreck’d-of, and in vain,
— Keep, keep thy riches, melancholy sea!
We ask not such from thee.

Yet more, the depths have more! what wealth untold
Far down, and shining through the stillness lies!
Thou hast the starry gems, the burning gold,
Won from ten thousand royal Argosies.
— Sweep o’er thy spoils, thou wild and wrathful main!
Earth claims not these again!

Yet more, the depths have more! thy waves have roll’d
Above the cities of a world gone by!
Sand hath tilled up the Palaces of old,
Sea-weed o’ergrown the halls of revelry!
— Dash o’er them, Ocean! in thy scornful play,
Man yields them to decay!

Yet more! the billows and the depths have more?
High hearts and brave are gather’d to thy breast!
They hear not now the booming waters roar,
The battle-thunders will not break their rest.
— Keep thy red gold and gems, thou stormy grave —
Give back the true and brave!

Give back the lost and lovely!- those for whom
The place was kept at board and hearth so long;
The prayer went up thro’ midnight’s breathless gloom,
And the vain yearning woke ’midst fatal song!
Hold fast thy buried isles, thy towers o’erthrown,
— But all is not thy own!

To thee the love of woman hath gone down,
Dark flow thy tides o’er manhood’s noble head,
O’er youth’s bright locks and beauty’s flowery crown;
— Yet must thou hear a voice — Restore the Dead!
Earth shall reclaim her precious throng from thee,
— Restore the Dead, thou Sea!

On the Shore of Mona Crescent.

As the calm Evening, with her softening charms,
Decks the vast scene which mocks my eager view,
I listen to the May-bee’s brisk alarms,
Or to old Ocean’s ripplings ever new!

Placid as Evening in her softest hours,
The tide rolls in as if it flow’d to rest;
While the gay barks, unconscious of their pow’rs,
Move calmly o’er the Ocean’s mighty breast!

No blust’ring breeze, that often moves the main,
Rides o’er the sea, or rocks the son of toil;
All, all is still; and seamen’s art is vain
To raise the sail which gentlest breezes foil!

This calmness, sweet indeed in Evening’s hour,
Is like the tranquil eve of life’s decline,
When human gay dreams lose their witching pow’r —
Oh! may this softness mark the close of mine.

Observed from Fort Anne, close to the Pier Head.

How beautiful the setting Sun
Reposes o’er the wave!
Like virtue, life’s drear warfare done,
Descending to the grave;
Yet smiling with a brow of love,
Benignant, pure, and kind,
And blessing, ere she soars above,
The realms she leaves behind.

The cloudlets, edged with crimson light,
Veil o’er the blue serene,
While swift the legions of the night,
Are shadowing o’er the scene.
The sea-gull, with a wailing moan,
Upstarting, turns to seek
Its lonely dwelling place, upon
This promontory’s peak.

The heaving sea — the distant hill —
The waning sky the woods —
With melancholy musings fill
The swelling heart, that broods
Upon the light of other days,
Whose glories now are dull,
And on the visions Hope could raise
Vacant, but beautiful!

Where are the bright illusions vain,
That Fancy boded forth?
Sunk to their silent caves again,
Aurora of the North:
Oh! who would live these visions o’er,
All brilliant though they seem,
Since Earth is but a desert, shore,
And Life a weary dream!

Round the Bay of Douglas, &c

One evening as the Sun went down,
Gilding the mountains bare and brown,
I wandered on the shore;
And such a blaze o’er Ocean spread,
And beauty on the meek earth shed,
I never saw before.

I was not lonely — dwellings fair
Were scattered round and shining there!
Gay groupes were on the sand,
Of children, wild with reckless glee,
And parents, that could child-like be
With them, and on the strand.

And on the sea, that looked of gold,
Each toy-like skiff and vessel bold
Glided, and yet seemed still;
While sounds rose on the quiet air,
That, mingling, made sweet music there,
Surpassing Minstrel’s skill.

The breezy murmur from the shore –
Joy’s laugh re-echoed o’er and o’er,
Alike by sire and child; –
The whistle shrill; the broken song;
The far-off flute-notes lingering long;
The lark’s strain rich and wild.

’Twas sun-set in the world around;
And looking inwards — so I found
’Twas sun-set in the soul;
Nor grief, nor mirth, were burning there,
But musings sweet, and visions fair,
In placid beauty stole.

But moods like these, the human mind
Though seeking oft, may seldom find,
Nor finding, force to stay;
As dews upon the drooping flower,
That having shone their little hour,
Dry up — or fall away.

But though all pleasures take their flight
Yet some will leave memorials bright,
For many an after year;
This sun-set, that dull night will shade —
These visions, which must quickly fade —
With half-immortal memory braid —
For me, when far from shore!

On a view of the Sea from St. Catherine, the Cottage of J. C. Gelling, Esq., at Kk. Onchan.

Ocean! I love to view thy dark blue face,
To hear thee rippling on thy shelvy shore:
To me, thy form hath greatness, grandeur, grace —
To me, there’s more than music in thy roar.
Washed by thy waves, like pearls the pebbles shine;
Thy sandy shore is like a jewelled sky;
Why should I wonder thou wert deemed divine,
When Paphia, thy sweet daughter, rules on high?

Yet thou art false and fickle; and though now
Thy billows beat but softly on their bounds,
Anon, convulsed and tossed tempestuous, thou
Wilt, foaming furious, batter down thy mounds —
Herein, an emblem of thy sister earth,
Her Monarchs now are firmest, fondest friends,
Anon, ambition gives Bellona birth;
And war and woe the “HOLY TREATY” ends!

When calm thou seem’st, as Phoebus’ flickering gleams
With glittering brilliance on thy glassy brow,
Like earthly glory, transient as its beams,
That shine as fiercely and as false as thou —
Thy soft smooth wave the Sailor’s view beguiles,
With sunny surface hiding oft the storm,
Like friends who flatter when fair fortune smiles,
To hate the more when frowns her brow deform.

Thy boisterous billows batter the rude rock,
That, tow’ring proudly, dares thy fiercest storms,
While thunders sound the charge to every shock,
And bannered lightnings rear their forked forms:
An emblem then thou art of hellish hate —
Of fortune’s direst, deepest, deadliest power —
Of virtue, battl’ing with the storms of fate,
And hearing bravely all their chilling shower.

A world of elemental power art thou,
An agitated universe of soul: —
What are a million Caesars to thee now —
Ten million hosts to thy tremendous roll?
A spirit reigns within thee, and his will
Sighs in the breeze and thunders in the blast;
Telling of things invisible, yet still
’Tis formless, viewless, voiceless, dark and vast.

Methinks thy wild waves speak the track of time,
A rapid, rolling, and resistless stream,
Terribly swift, yet solemnly sublime,
No power can reign, no penitence redeem;
Speeding, but never spent, man marks in time
And thy deep billows, that no force can lull,
A Type of Time hid in Eternity,
For ever flowing, yet for ever full!

Witnessed from the Windows of Mr. Dixon’s Crescent Hotel.

When the gay songster pours his matin strain,
And rosy morn o’erspreads the dewy plain,
See on the shore the vent’rous fair one come,
And with quick step ascend the cover’d dome.
There safely shelter’d from licentious sight,
She draws the silk from legs of glowing white;
Untied, unpinned, unlaced, obedient fall
The hat, the gown, the stays, and spangled shawl;
Her auburn locks in rich luxuriance flow
O’er heaving breasts that imitate the snow:
And now the loosen’d floating lawn betrays
Those dazzling charms which Heav’n alone surveys;
Awhile she stands in faultless eve’s attire,
Shrinks blushing from herself with virgin fear;
Then in soft flannel plunges in the main,
And shines as summer’s sun through summer’s rain:
So the fair lily through the chrystal glows,
So through the morning dew the balmy rose. —
The parting flood with joy its guest receives,
And round her, zephyr all his sweetness breathes.
Sportive with youth she wantons in the main,
Now sinks below, now skims the wave again:
Then back returns with kindly strengthen’d pace,
Her ev’ry feature beaming richer grace:
Then quickly throws her wat’ry garbs aside,
And drest in careless haste she leaves the tide.

So charming Venus, Love’s imperial Queen,
First rising from the em’rald wave was seen.

The Villa of Thomas Harrison, Esq. of the House of Keys.

Now flaming no more on the soft-heaving main,
The Sun’s parting splendour is shed;
Night’s dark rolling shades have envelop’d the plain,
And the twilight’s faint visions have fled.
No longer in day’s gaudy colouring glows
The landscape in Nature’s diversity gay;
The loud-lowing herds are now lulled to repose,
And hushed are the sounds from the hamlet that rose,
And the music that flowed from the spray.

How solemn the hour! — in their splendid career,
The planets revolving are seen;
And the proud towering hills ’neath their glimmering appear
As the shadow of things that have been.
Dread Silence, her empire o’er Nature to prove,
Forbids that a whisper be heard in the vale,
Save the breeze breathing soft thro’ the far-stretching grove,
And the light curling waves in sweet cadence that move
Where the Bay’s gently kissed by the gale.

From behind yon dark hill in deep sable arrayed,
The Moon soars majestic and slow;
And her mild-beaming rays sweetly pierce through the shade
Of the thicket that waves on its brow —
And now her full orb o’er the mountain impending,
Sublime in bright glory she glows in the sky;
A stream of soft light o’er the vallies descending;
On the Bay’s silver breast rocks and cottages blending
With the splendours effulgent on high.

Great Ruler of all! while transported I view
This fabric so glorious and fair,
Oh! teach me, with rapture and reverence due,
To trace benign DEITY there —
Serene as yon orb in thy radiance shine,
And light, life, and joy, to creation impart,
So fair from my soul beam thine image divine,
And fervent, diffusive, unchanging like thine,
May benevolence glow in my heart!

As contemplated from the elegant Marine Villa of Robert Steuart, Esq.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean — roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin — his controul
Stops with the shore; — upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own;
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into the depths, with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, unconfined, and unknown.

Thou glorious mirror, where th’ Almighty form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convuls’d — in breeze, or gale, or storm
Iceing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark — heaving; – boundless, endless, and sublime —
The image of Eternity — the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee: thou go’st forth, dread, fathomless, alone!

On seeing one fly over the Pier in the month of October.

Away! away! thou summer Bird,
For autumn’s moaning voice is heard
In cadence wild and deepening swell
Of winter’s stern approach to tell.

Away! for vapours damp and low
Are wreathed beneath the mountain’s brow;
And tempest clouds their mantles fold
Around the forest’s russet gold.

Away! away! o’er earth and sea,
This Isle is now no home for thee!
Arise! and stretch thy soaring wing,
And seek elsewhere the smiles of spring.

The wanderer now, with pinions spread,
Afar to brighter climes has fled,
Nor casts one backward look, nor grieves
For those sear hills whose heath he leaves.

Why should he grieve? The beam he loves
Shines o’er him still where’er he roves,
And all those early friends are near
Who made his summer home so dear.

Oh! deem not that the tie of birth
Endears us to this spot of earth;
For wheresoe’er our steps may roam,
If friends are near, that place is home.

No matter where our fate may guide us,
If those we love are still beside us.

As viewed from Bemahague, the beautiful Seat of Deemster Heywood.

O thou vast Ocean! ever-sounding Sea!
Thou symbol of a drear immensity!
Thou thing that windest round the solid world,
Like a huge animal, which, downward hurl’d
From the black clouds, lies weltering and alone,
Lashing and writhing till its strength be gone.
Thy voice is like the thunder, and thy sleep
Is a giant’s slumber, loud and deep.
Thou speakest in the east and in the west
At once, and on thy heavily laden breast
Fleets come and go, and shapes that have no life
Or motion, yet are moved and meet in strife.
The earth hath nought of this; no chance nor change
Ruffles its surface, and no spirit dare
Give answer to the tempest-waken air;
But o’er its wastes the weakly tenants range
At will, and wound its bosom as they go;
Ever the same; it hath no ebb, no flow;
But in their stated rounds the seasons come,
And pass like visions to their viewless home,
And come again, and vanish; the young Spring
Looks ever bright with leaves and blossoming;
And Winter always winds his sullen horn
When the wild Autumn, with a look forlorn,
Dies in his stormy manhood, and the skies
Weep, and flowers sicken, when the Summer flies.

Thou only, terrible Ocean, hast a power,
A will, a voice, and in thy wrathful hour,
When thou dost lift thine anger to the clouds,
A fearful and magnificent beauty shrouds
Thy broad green forehead. If thy waves be driven
Backwards and forwards by the shifting wind,
How quickly dost thou thy great strength unbind,
And stretch thine arms, and war at once with Heaven!

Thou trackless and immeasurable Main!
On thee no record ever lived again
To meet the hand that writ it; line or lead
Hath never fathomed thy profoundest deeps,
Where happy the huge monster swells and sleeps –
King of his watery limit, who, ‘tis said,
Can move the mighty Ocean into storm —
Oh! wonderful thou art, great element;
And fearful in thy spleeny humours bent,
And lovely in repose: thy summer form
Is beautiful, and when thy silver waves
Make music in earth’s dark and winding caves,
I love to wander on thy pebbled beach,
Marking the sun-light at the evening hour,
And hearken to the thoughts thy waters teach —
“Eternity! Eternity, and Power!”

Observed from Banks’ How.

The golden Sun, now in the west
Smiling, reluctant sinks to rest;
A transient glance, a ling’ring beam,
Now softly plays upon the stream.

He fades — but still a loit’ring ray,
Does o’er the Ocean gently play;
A dusky cloud his beauties shade,
He sinks — now every ray is fled.

From Douglas to Mona Crescent.

One eve of beauty, when the sun
Was on the wave of Douglas Bay,
To gold converting, one by one,
The ripples of that beauteous sea;
Beside me on a bank was seated
A Mona Girl with auburn hair,
And eyes that might the world have cheated,
A wild, bright, wicked, diamond pair!

She stooped, and wrote upon the sand,
Just as the loving sun was going,
With such a soft, small, shining hand
I could have sworn ’twas silver flowing;
Her words were these, and not one more?
What could Diana’s motto be?
The Syren wrote upon the shore —
“Death, not inconstancy!”

And then her two large languid eyes,
So turned on mine, that, devil take me,
I set the air on fire with sighs,
And was the fool she chose to make me;
Saint Patrick would have been deceived
With such an eye and such an hand:
But one week more, and I believed
As much the woman as the sand.


When the pale moon chastely beaming,
Hangs her silver lamp on high;
When the starry host is gleaming
In the blue unclouded sky;
Then, O God! thy hand bestowing
In thy wond’rous works we see;
Then the raptur’d bosom glowing,
Breathes its warmest prayer to thee.

Thou in highest Heaven residing;
Thou, before whose radiant throne,
With their wings their faces hiding,
Angels bow adoring down;
Thou, by seraph-choirs surrounded,
Deign’st e’en poor Fishermen to view;
As thine empire is unbounded,
So thy love is boundless too!


As Douglas Bay is now frequented by several of the finest Steam- vessels belonging equally to Glasgow and Liverpool, and as they are deservedly a spectacle of great attraction, I think it right to insert in these little Marine Poems the following —



Freighted with passengers of every sort,
A motley throng, thou leav’st the busy port,
Thy long and ample deck, where scattered lie
Baskets, and cloaks, and shawls of scarlet dye;
Where dogs and children thro’ the crowd are straying,
And, on his bench apart, the fiddler playing,
While matron dames lo tressel’d seats repair, —
Seems, on the gleamy waves, a floating fair.

Its dark form on the sky’s pale azure cast,
Towers from this clust’ring group thy pillar’d mast,
The dense smoke issuing from its narrow vent
Is to the air in curly volumes sent,
Which, coiling and uncoiling on the wind,
Trails like a writhing serpent far behind.
Beneath, as each merged wheel its motion plies,
On either side the white-churn’d waters rise,
And, newly parted from the noisy fray,
Track with light ridgy foam the recent way,
Then far diverged, in many a welting line
Of lustre, on the distant surface shine.

Thou hold’st thy course in independent pride;
No leave ask’st thou of either wind or tide.
To whatever point the breeze, inconstant, veer,
Still doth thy careless helmsman onward steer;
As if the stroke of some magician’s wand
Had lent thee power the Ocean to command.
What is the power which thus within thee lurks,
And, all unseen, like a mask’d giant works?
Ev’n that which gentle dames, at morning’s tea,
From silver urn ascending, daily see,
With tressy wreathings playing in the air,
Like the loos’d ringlets of a lady’s hair;
Or rising from the enamell’d cup beneath,
With the soft fragrance of an infant’s breath;
That which within the peasant’s humble cot
Comes from th’ uncover’d mouth of sav’ry pot,
As his kind mate prepares his noon-day fare,
Which cur and cat and rosy urchins share:
That which, all silver’d with the moon’s pale beam,
Precedes the mighty Geyser’s up-cast stream,
What time, with bellowing dim, exploded forth,
It decks the midnight of the frozen north,
Whilst travellers from their skin-spread couches rise
To gaze upon the sight with wondering eyes.

Yet, ne’ertheless, whate’er we owe to thee,
Rover at will on river, lake, and sea,
As profit’s bait or pleasure’s lure engage,
Thou offspring of that philosophic sage,
WATT, who in heraldry of science ranks
With those to whom men owe high meed of thanks,
And shall not he forgotten, ev’n when Fame
’Graves on her annals DAVY’s splendid name!
Dearer to fancy, to the eye more fair,
Are the light skiffs that to the breezy air
Unfurl their swelling sails of snowy hue
Upon the moving lap of ocean blue:
As the proud swan on summer lake displays,
With plumage bright’ning in the morning rays,
Her fair pavilion of erected wings, —
They change, and veer, and turn like living things.

So fairly rigg’d, with shrouding, sails, and mast,
To brave with manly skill the winter blast
Of every clime; in vessels rigged like these
Did great COLUMBUS cross the western seas,
And to the stinted thoughts of man revealed
What yet the course of ages had concealed.
In such as these, on high adventure bent,
Round the vast world MAGELLAN’S comrades went,
To such as these are hardy seamen found,
As with the ties of kindred feeling bound,
Boasting, as cans of cheering grog they sip,
The varied fortunes of “our gallant ship.”
The offspring these of bold sagacious man
Ere yet the reign of letter’d lore began.

In very truth, compared to these thou art
A daily lab’rer, a mechanic swart,
In working weeds array’d of homely gray,
Opposed to gentle nymph or lady gay,
To whose free robes the graceful right is given
To play and dally with the winds of heaven.
Beholding thee, the great of other days
And modern men with all their alter’d ways,
Across my mind with hasty transit gleam,
Like fleeting shadows of a fev’rish dream:
Fitful I gaze, with adverse humours teased,
Half sad, half proud, half angry, and half pleased.



My thoughts have long been on thee, till the murmur of thy streams
Have come with all their music in the silent hour of dreams,
And the winds that love thy waters, and their showers of diamond spray,
Come whispering in their dewy flight of the Valley of Glenmay.

Thy very name doth breathe of flowers and the sunny eves of Spring,
And what can sweeter thoughts to the Minstrel’s visions bring?
Many hearts have linger’d o’er thee in the trance of silent joy,
And if thus thou art in beauty, what can e’er the charm destroy?

The rocks that guard thy lovely Glen are wreath’d with blossoms fair,
The emerald leaves of ivy shower their bright luxuriance there;
And the dewy moss lies green and deep as if ’twere trod by none,
Save the fairies in their moonlight dance when the summer day is done.

Oh! here upon the eve of May they surely wake again,
To bless the loveliest Glen of all that own their festal reign;
And the dark gems of the violets, the woodbines garlands fair,
Seem as they were wreaths of fairy land and left at sunrise there.

The song of summer wild birds, so joyous and so free;
The bright rush of the Waterfall, with its dreamy melody;
The silvery leaves of willows, just trembling on the stream;
As if they loved, yet fear’d to break its soft and sunny gleam.

So lonely and so lovely is the dream I’ve formed of thee,
I know not if so many charms may in thy valley be;
Nor will I wander near thee, lest the spell should pass away
That has thrown its wild enchantment o’er the valley of Glenmay.


Trevor Ashe’s The Pier and Bay of Douglas, although certainly not a great work, is significant for its place amongst the earliest collections of poetry published in the Isle of Man.

Having written the Island’s first novel some years earlier as a money-making venture, The Pier and Bay of Douglas was conceived of along the same lines when it was published in 1825. As the subtitle and introduction makes clear, Ashe intended for the book to become a popular souvenir for visitors to the Island:

”as every Stranger will here find subjects suited to his taste, the Author hopes that this little book will merit a favourable reception amongst the lovers of the Pier, and that it may ultimately become the popular “Forget Me Not,” of the Isle of Man.”

The collection is credited as having started the trend for ‘topographical’ poetry on the Island, naming people or their homes as locations or inspiration for the poems in the hope of gaining their patronage and boosting sales. This was to remain a popular form of poetry in the Isle of Man for almost a century, with even such 20th century works as William Gell’s Mannin Veg Veen being of the same form.

The Pier and Bay of Douglas is notable for being the first publication of an Eliza Craven Green’s poem in book form. Ashe, as a friend and early advocate of the work of the later author of ‘Ellan Vannin’, included her ‘A Dream of Glenmay’ at the conclusion of the collection.

Besides the credited inclusion of the poem by Craven Green, and one by Joanna Baillie, it has been recognised that Ashe included sections plagiarised from Byron elsewhere in the collection. This casts doubt on the authenticity of the rest of the poems, and it might explain why the book is less descriptive of the Isle of Man than than one might have hoped. Although there are memorable poems on the Steam Packet, Castle Mona and Douglas Bay, the majority of the poems tend to be generic contemplations of the sea. As Ulla Corkill has observed of many of them, “the titles are the most Manx part of his poems.”

Despite poems often lacking quality, perhaps leaving the reader somewhat indifferent, The Pier and Bay of Douglas still deserves its place here because of its important place in the story of Manx literature.

Trevor Ashe was responsible for one of the Isle of Man’s earliest collections of poetry, its first novel, the foundation of the first “Manx Museum,” and some of the most remarkably scurrilous behaviour ever seen on the Isle of Man.