[From Mannin, #1, 1913]

The Lament of the Mother Tongue.


A rendering into verse of W.J. Cain’s literal translation of Kennish’s "Dobberan Chengey ny Mayrey." (See A. W. Moore’s "Manx Ballads," page 142.)

I WALKED on Snaefell all alone
When night’s black banner fell unfurled
Across the skies, and floated down
Over the Manx side of the world.

And following darkness came the rest
That God gives man to comfort him—
His peace to those of troubled breast,
His sleep to those of wearied limb.

But to my heart no quiet came—
Only the darkness brooded there,
To see my country brought to shame
By those who should have cherished her.

And while I pondered Mannin’s ills—
The change, the strife, the suffering,
Behold! a woman on the hills,
Running towards me through the ling.

Old, old and gray, bowed down with years,
Her tattered garments wet with dew,
Her ancient visage wet with tears,
She rose upon my startled view.

The heart within me shook with grief
To see the hapless creature’s plight,
For she had known (‘twas my belief)
More honour than was hers that night,

As thus she came I heard her sigh:
"What woe is mine, what misery!
Despised, abandoned thus to die,
By those who should have cherished me.".

Each little bird had found its nest,
Each lamb had found its mother’s side;
The sea rose up in dark unrest
Beneath the night-wind’s trampling stride.

The sun had set; a shadowy veil
Crept westward over dreem and pairk;
The moon had spread her silver sail,
And drifted glorious up the dark.

On Snaefell’s grassy slope we sate,
I and the ancient woman there:
"0 Manxman, hear me now relate
Why thus I wander, thus despair.

"I am thy dying mother-tongue,
The first speech of this Island race,
Dying, because of the deep wrong
Of their neglect and my disgrace.
"Twas I who kept the strangers out,
And kept unspoiled our Island home:

‘Tis I could put them still to rout,
And spare my children grief to come.

"But now up every hill and glen,
On Cardle Vooar, in Tholt-e-will,
Come companies of Englishmen,
Their multitudes increasing still.

"From Jurby southward to the Sound,
Mad as the beasts the croghan stings,
The Manxmen a strange taste have found
For English words and English things.

"As never their forefathers used,
Who loved their land and cherished me,
And in their wisdom still refused
The stranger’s gold and flattery.

"Ah! would that those who yet remain
Of loyal heart and loyal speech
Would rise upon the Saxon strain,
And drive them seaward from the beach;

"And turn again to field and boat—
The simple tasks of former days—
From the bewildering world remote,
Contented in their fathers’ ways.

"0 men of Mannin, trust not those
Who come with gifts but stay to rule;
Their gold is but the bribe of foes,
Their speech a plaything for the fool.

"But I, forgot, must follow this
The dusty pathway to the tomb;
For see, my head how gray it is
With age, and grief, and nearing doom!"


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