[From Mona's Isle, 1844]



ACROSS the brow of Snaafield’s rugged height
Slowly the mighty king of day retires,
On western regions to transmit his light,
And paint the morning on Columbian spires.

The Vesper twinkles through the twilight haze,
The full-orb’d moon emerges from the east,
The tired heifer from the furrow strays,
Now from the pressure of the yoke releas’d.—

The plover seeks the hospitable bush,
The soaring lark darts downward to its nest,
The mountain-daisy hides its simple blush,
And droops its head upon its dewy breast.—

The playful lambs, the kind maternal ewes,
Behind the hillock to the fold retire,
And leave me here in solitude to muse,
And strike with solemn tone my rustic lyre.

Beneath these heath-clad time-respected mounds,
The sacred dust of Mona’s ancient race
Securely lies within the narrow bounds,
Till time dissolves in never-ending space.

Their obscure annals the recording page
Unravels not,—nor does tradition say
What did their mental properties engage
During their earthly transitory stay:

Tho’ here, perhaps, some warlike Manxmen lie,
Who ‘ye dipp’d their sandals in Norwegian gore,
Ere they would with proud Goddard’s* yoke comply,
When he invaded peaceful Mona’s shore:

A Manx Lycurgus may have hidden here
A life devoted to his Island’s cause—
Or rests some ancient Prince, to Mona dear,
Who erst, at Tinwal Court, upheld her laws.

But awful silence o’er their gloomy cell
Outspreads its dark impenetrable pall,
In dread oblivion evermore to dwell,
Which is in truth the common lot of all:

For sculptured tombs of adamantine rock,
And polish’d marble monumental urns,
Shall crumble ‘neath the unresisted shock
When Fate Time’s mighty empire overturns!

Altho’ the process may appear but slow,
Compared with mortals’ momentary flight
Through this terrestial mystery below,—
Like yon bright meteor darting thro’ the night,—

Yet, the short record of a thousand years
Will but appear as yesterday that’s past,
When the seraphic messenger appears
And with his trump proclaims the final blast!

Then sleep in peace, my honour’d, ancient race,
Your earthly cares are now for ever fled,—
Leaving behind no mark for man to trace
Your faults, or virtues, to your lowly bed:

And tho’ no sculpture decorates your tomb,
Nature shall dress, at each returning spring,
Your lonely mansion with the heather-bloom,
While mountain larks around your shrine shall

And when no more the rays of summer smile,
But winter-storms from the bleak north emerge,
And wrap in gloomy vest your native Isle-—
The osier reeds shall sigh your fun’ral dirge.

* This Prince, the son of Harold the Black of Iceland, being defeated in the Norwegian army at Stamford, by Harold, son of Earl Goodwin, AD. 1065, fled for protection to the Isle of Man, where he was kindly entertained by the people. After he had made himself acquainted with the localities of the Island he returned to his native land, and raised a great fleet to invade the Island. He was repulsed twice, but carried it on the third attempt by stratagem.—Sacheverell’s Account of the Isle of Man, 1702.


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HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000