[From Manx Quarterly, #22 1920]
With Kindly Greeting and Regards to Old Schoolmates.
By George Quarrie, New York.
Three thousand miles of ocean's wathers wide
Hev rowled for years 'twix' me and ould Kirk Bride.
But let them rovel away and trough their fill,
Me heart is theer, in ould Phil-Breeja still!
An' bless me! when they say 'am gerrin owl,
They're thinkin' of me barry-nat me sovl
hor though me hair gets thin and whitey-grey,
Back galavants me heart to boyhood's day.
Jus' as 'am seein' now, at Billy Nick's,
Thear comes that gandher, at his same owl thricks,
Cribbin' his ears and " hissin' " like a snake,
As sure as I go pass, for me he'll make,
Lavin his wives and geslin's in the dub,
Their nebs all in the air, in great hubbub.
These past, then down the Ballakilley hill,
Where Bill Boyd hes his smiddy, may be, still;
But no,; when Johnnie swung the mighty sledge,
Bill moved his anvil near the pazon's hedge,
And here's Bob Ned, too, in his new-built shop,
Man veen, .improvements seem to nevar stop!
But mem'ry paints far plainer, old Bob Ned
In that lil low thatch house of his, instead,
Weltin' away at shoes, theer on his stool,
Jus' down a step, across the road from school.
But now for school, I wondher if we're late;
Aw no, theer's Charlie at the pazon's gate.
And here they come, the big f'las, from Kewneer;
Thas Robbie Garret fuss and Danny Tear,
Two genual bhoys, and chore as avar was,
There's not their like at us, in all Kewn-jas.
Many a sthugga would hav found it hard
And got the ruler or the cane from Garde,
Or would hev been all luttherd, two to wan,
In some sohool fight, instead of man to man,
But for a word from one of these to help,
Aw, manny a time they saved a little whelp!
" Whose sheeney was it? Chet! 'is all the same!
Hit him, he's Eirish!" Kammag's now the game;
Slam-bang! and " whiz!" the crig goes like a flash
Right through the pazon's window with a crash.
" Who threw that stane?" is now demanded, but
Not one was there to answer questions put.
For over hedge and through the churchyard came
The kammag crowd to join another game-
Thrap-ball-with chosen sides, and hole and kit;
This boy or that would give the bell a smit;
But if it's caught, " han' out, me bhoy ! han' out!"
Then, in goes t'other side for turn about.
My han's not out-I navar hed the ball!"
Cries Tom; 'is branglis! Tha's not fair at all!"
Aw, le's hev sarvice," Billy said, " 'is fun,
You serve the ball to me-I hit an' run.''
Now, by the churchyard wall was marked the den;
The ball was served and hit in Cheer, an' then
The hitter sheets like blazes, bob, to gain
Two other dens an' back, or threes in vain;
For if between the dens he'll ger a weed,
His ham' is out-he's lost, for all his speed.
(This is the " baseball" Yanks go wild about;
They play it well, but Lord, how they do shout!)
The same side won again, so sarvice ended,
When " Speelo !" with a shout was recommended.
Now, Speelo was a game, I think, home: made-
Invinted likely by that Colly Wade;
He alwis seemed to lie on watch and ward,
To grab each ball that dhropped in his owl yard.
A stick laid cross a stone, for speelo's wanted,
The stick is flat, each end is aisy canted;
A mellad or a wahbeen of some sort
An' strinth to hit, is needed in this sport.
The ball on one end of the stick now sits,
The player on his ban's puts sev'rad spits,
Then swings the wabbeen, an', mi yes kin flump !
Down on that stick it comes, a mighty thump!
Up flies the hall so high, we only watch it,
" Speelo !" we shout an' run, but rarely catch it;
But what's the use of thrvin' i? When it falls
'Is sure to be behine owl Colly's walls!
An' whither -Colly keeps it, altogether
Depins upon,his timper and the w'ather.
If molly Wade the -roman" bed at all,
Ye'd batther far not ask him for the ball!
On Ballakilley Hill again, one sees
A mos' enchantin' prospect through the threes--
The white old church there, with its ancient bø1'1,
Whose good old lolling tongue I loved so well.
Clod's acre, too, so long has claimed its own,
Its mingled dust-to-dust so high has grown,
Those monuments and little grassy hills
Have climbed above those dear old window sills.
How plain I see the farmers standing round
Among the graves there, in the burying ground,
For toss about the morning peal to ring-
" Ting-a-ling-go-ding !" " Ting-a-ling-go-ding !"
Until the pazon in his surplus white,
Comin' about Bob - ed's, would be in sight;
This, some lil sthugga would the ringer tell,
And then, " ting-ding !" " ting-cling !" or bangle bell,
Until the pazon r'ached the door, an' then
The bell would stop, and one of the young men,
Would coil the bell rope in a hank or ball
And lying it on a nail, dhrove in the wall;
Then he devoutly with the rest would stray
Into the old white church his prayers to say.
Bless thee, theu dear old fane, as white as snow,
Three-quarters of a century ago,
Or very near it, down your aisle was led
A very little bhoy, with reddish head;
As thus I walked along those flags, the sound
My feet made seemed to say 't;vas holy ground.
1 heard the white-robed pazon, pray, an' then,
A quare lit man below him shouts, " Aamen!"
This man I later knew as Jack the clerk-
A thick fit chap wis curly head, an' dark ;
In broadcloth, Jack look'd jus' in pa.in--all dhressed ;
You saw at once it was his Sunday-best.
'Is sthrange what thoughts get in a sthugga's head,
This man that answered all the pazon said,
Seemed chocked-out almos' an' all wet wis sweat,
Thrapin' away 'like, the las' word to get.
The argument here came, thoh, to a stop,
An' Jack had jus' bare time .his head to map
Wis a red ha;n'kerc.hief, an' blow his nose,
As down the pazon come, to change his clo'es;
But Jack was not lef' idle, thoh--no fear!
" We'll sing," the pazon said; but then, oh dear!
That clerk gor up an' for ten verses long,
lie lifted up his voice, alone, in song-
Long met-her, bop, an' mos' of it so high,
Jack might not manish it, but he did thry !
With head threw back, his highes' point his nose,
As ev'rv note went up, he rose an' rose,
Until he'd end the verse on tippy-toes.
My young soul thought, what have I done amiss,
That ever I should have to suffer this?
I thought my soberness could be relied on,
But something said " the tune the owl cow died on!"
Then, not to bust, I thought to give one yell
And cub to rush, e'en if I went to-Peel to live!
Not one ivas theer to help Jack Beg go higher,
He was the sole and single-barral choir.
In bass, thoh, sometimes there would be some help;
Of an indeed, but tenor, nor a yelp.
The bass was fine and deep---from Mr Garret,
He'd help the choir, an' good he was, too, ar' it.
At service theer, but few there used to be,
Besides the pazon's ricin' family,
Sometimes there'd be some special do, an' then
You'd mebbe fine as mannv therr as ton.
But lef' as thou wast, ot'en in the lurch,
The fault was navar at yerself, owl church ;
:Nor was good Pazon Nelson's praichin' short
Of wholesome, mate of intellectual sort.
I used to gaze up at that pulpit there
And think the pazon with his silv'ry hair,
His surplus and, as I thought, perfect face,
Might step from that upon the throne of grace.
And yet, one glance across upon his son,
That grin of Charlie's turned it all to fun.
Now, dear old Bride, farewell, and fond adieus,
My eyes are on the sea, I see the sthrews !
Whatevor else is changed, these still are, thore ;
The works of God endure; they're always fair.
Some works of mortal men are good to view,
They sometimes seem to be immortal, too;
Like that old church - I see it - just the same!---
It must be there !-Ah no! it's but a dhro me !