[From Manxiana, 1870]


In the days of th' Enchantment — olden time —
When Magic was the faith of all the isle,
A wise magician, by his secret art,
Raised up a palace, noblest of the land,
And peopl'd it with evil spirits too.
Fatal it was to enter : whoe'er it enter'd,
E'en at the threshold door, to stone was turn'd,
And fell and lay, in ghastly monument.
The neighbours saw, and terror — seized, all fled,
Leaving a desolation all around.
It chanc'd, howe'er, one evening about dusk,
A strange beggar, journeying near the spot,
Who, knowing nothing of the enchanter's wiles,
And lost among the desolations on the moor,
Chance spied the castle.
He, daring not to affront
The pamper'd menials by his entrance,
Under the piazza sat; o'ercome with want,
From out his wallet his poor victuals took,
And wee bit salt, which by mere accident
Sprinkled the ground — and forthwidh out there flash'd
Fork lightnings and terrific thunder peels;
In the dark sky a hurricane arose,
And th' earth trembled as in agony,
As vanish'd in a moment the vast pile
Of castellated palace, as a dream.
And on its site, a desert waste appear'd,
He sitting still on now its lonely site.
Up hasten'd and away soon told the news
To the more distant folk in village towns;
Believ'd he was not, till they went themselves
To where the castle was — but was not now,
The necromancer and his island home were gone.
Prayers public offer'd were, and jubilee of joy,
For the deliverance by the sprinkled salt.
Since then, amongst the Manx folk, on Manx land
Salt a Penates is in high esteem with all;
The wifie, when her husband gangs to fair,
To buy or sell his cow, pockets his salt;
In flitting-time all use it in the flit;
In strawing-time, or putting child to nurse,
or taking one to nurse — salt must insure success.
The wand'ring vagrants will not touch the help,
Be it in meal or grain, without its salt.
No business done without it on the isle,
It seasons all things with its weal or woe;
And should you ask them why? — this tale
In homely language all will tell to you,
And then, with clencher to its mystic truth,
Will ask you — ' — What the Manx folk have for food?
" Herring," your answer — then reply is made,
Salt keeps the herring the herring keeps the isle 1
So salt is its chief blessingg best good,
It draws the enchantress off and feeds the poor.
We're Nimmoch Walla's serfs of the ocean sea;
Neptune's our king, and in his hand you see
Our own isle's heraldry — his trident spear.
Dare the three kingdoms that would strike us down,
Silence our Tynwald, blot us out the world."
In Jewish story — no offering without salt.
And Pliny tells us. that in Roman times
Salt made the sacrifice acceptable.
Round Jupiter's temple, in the east,
From off the Egyptian desert, salt was brought
To season sacrifice by Ammon priests.
So later down, to Christian time, the Church,
In her oblations in monastic times,
Used consecrated salt — the baptismal rite
Completed was by it.
The sage Grecians, too,
Season'd the victim with the Attic salt.
Hence is the origin in Roman Church
Of holy water of the present day,
A grain of salt alone compounding it.
And in the Orkneys, it alone has power
To expel all demons, whosoe'er they be.
So, too, in Ireland, would they keep the witches off
The new-sown ground — sprinkled it is with salt.
So, too, in India, would you the rajah please,
A Nimmoch Walla you must be to him,
And if you eat his salt you'll do his will.
Here, on the isle, a pinch of salt alone
Does wonders in its way among the poor.
'Twill make the butter come, but always note,
Leave wee mite of first churning on the wall,
Then all is well — you'll get the Ramsey price.
At meal-time hours, he sure the salt don't spill,
One single-dropt grain brings disasters fell ;
So to arrest this ill, a pinch you'll fling
Over your shoulder into nearest fire.
And shonld you by disease be sudden seized,
Brandy and salt the sure cure is for all ;
And should this fail, a pinch on corpse you'll place,
As emblem of the soul's immortal life,
Twas Egypt's emblem, and is Isle of Man's,
It was when aged people now were babes.
So, chloride of sodium, ye have royal use,
As life-preserver of humanity
In the world's history — let alone the sea,
Of which thou art the spirit, and shields
Myriads o£ worlds, preserving all in life,
Sprinkling thy holy waters on all shores,
Baptizing all the continents and isles
In dedication to the Triune God,
As Saviour of the world and all within.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2002