[From Mona Miscellany second series Manx Soc vol 21]


A Legend of the Calf, by Miss E. Nelson.

THERE is a tradition that a little ruin on the island, called the "Calf of Man," was formerly tenanted by a man who retired to this wild spot in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, imposing upon himself a solitary residence as a penance for having killed a beautiful woman in a fit of jealousy.

FAR ‘mid the rocks of Man’s wild shore,
An aged sinner dwelt— But earthly tongue might never speak
The pangs that sinner felt.
Far in a cavern by the shore,
Of dark Castrooan flood,
A fearful voice wail’d evermore,
"Old sinner, blood for blood!"

Yet many a day had that old man mourn’d
Through a weary pilgrimage;
Bitt can hard fare, or penance drear,
Guilt’s burning pangs assuage?
The tears of heartfelt penitence
Are registered in Heaven;
But that grey man ne’er shed a tear,
That old man was unshriven.

O! he bare a deadly sin I ween,
The voice wail’d—" blood for blood !"
And the islesmen said, misdeeds had been
By dark Castrooan’s flood.
And that old man’s harp was the white, white bone,
Its strings were soft golden hair,
And the sinner in his sleep would moan,
"Dead ! dead! although so fair!"

And the simple islemen, many a day,
Held marvel of the same;
And many a mother bless’d herself;
For thoughts she might not name;
And many a maiden’s cheek was pale,
To cross the gloomy strath—
Alas! there was a weary curse
Upon the old man’s path.

There is a headland bare and bold
By Mona’s lovely isle;
And there the wanderer may behold
A solitary pile;
The hoary sinner rear’d that pile,
That time-worn "cruciform,"
And there full many a day mourn’d he,
Above the mist and storm.

There is a cave within the rock,
As dark as evil thought;
When winds howl’d loud, and waves dash’d light,
Its gloom the sinner sought.
Where not a ray of heaven’s light,
Could that wild temple pierce;
Oh! he would mock the mad tempest
With laughter loud and fierce!

Oh, what is elemental wrath
To the deep mental strife?
~Alas! the sinner’s bitter laugh,
With agony was rife;
It mock’d, yea mock’d the elements,
It mock’d his own sad soul;
Woe, and alas, for evil hearts

And minds that spurn control!
And years went by, and from his cave
The sinner pass’d away;
None knew the wherefore, when or how—
None know it to this day!
Where’er he went, whate’er his fate,
All dark Castrooan’s flood
Could never from his conscience cleanse
The memory of blood.

Go, view those monuments of old,
They tell a fearful tale
Of deeds that blanch the cheek, and make
The stoutest hearts to quail.
Alas! there was doom for the sinner grey,
That passeth not with time,
Oh! well may the islemen, shuddering, pray
"Lord! save us from all crime."


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Island Minstrelsy

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001