[From Manxiana, 1870]


'Twas winter time when northern gales do drive
Fiercely across the mountains, when John Quirk,
At Ballaskella shepherd, at noon day,
Would flock his sheep in the stone fold, that there
Serve temporary shelter in the depth
Of heavy snow that sometimes tombs them up
Week after week, till want of food and cold
Starves them to death. This to prevent,
John took his faithful dog, and wandered off
High up o'er mountains inaccessible
To all but shepherds who the passes know.
He did his work; returning with his dog,
A blinding storm of hail, and sleet, and snow —
Sudden and thick — came o'er the aged man
Darkening his way, and darkening all around,
So that no mountain land-mark serv'd him then.
Snaefield and Penny Pot, unseen, were near,
The mountain road not a far distance off,
And land division stone dyke as a guide,
If he his stick could strike against it once,
He'd be at home, for that would guide him there.
Useless these in the black night of storm.
So poor old John gropes in a circle on —
As men do mostly when they lose their way —
Whether in th' Australian wilds, or prairie lands
Of the far West, or jungles of the East.
The night came on apace-on, on he groped,
And holloa'd loudly, as he thought, and swung
His arms across his chest to gather heat.
His dog bay'd too, as if to imitate
His master in th' endeavour to be heard.
All useless this — as the storm's furious roar —
The artillery of the Heavens stilled their voice.


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