[from Collected Works, T.E.Brown]


I’M here at Clifton, grinding at the mill
My feet for thrice nine barren years have trod;
But there are rocks and waves at Scarlett still,
And gorse runs riot in Glen Chass—thank God!

Alert, I seek exactitude of rule,
I step, and square my shoulders with the squad;
But there are blaeberries on old Barrule,
And Langness has its heather still—thank God!

There is no silence here : the truculent quack
Insists with acrid shriek my ears to prod,
And, if I stop them, fumes ; but there’s no lack
Of silence still on Carraghyn—thank God!

Pragmatic fibs surround my soul, and bate it
With measured phrase, that asks the assenting nod;
I rise, and say the bitter thing, and hate it—
But Wordsworth’s castle’s still at Peel—thank God!

O broken life ! O wretched bits of being,
Unrhythrnic, patched, the even and the odd!
But Bradda still has lichens worth the seeing,
And thunder in her caves—thank God ! thank God!

The poem was written in 1869, originally stating 'my feet for six long barren years..' but this was modified until the 'thrice nine' for publication in 1893. His letters of the time speak of his discontent at Clifton. Winterbottom (himself a long time teacher at Clifton) points out that at the end of the teaching year any teacher would be exhausted and that Brown remained at the school for nearly 30 years - with a very comfortable income as a housemaster and teacher. Like many poems of this period they were entered into a note book and remained unpublished for over 20 years though Betsy Lee, composed at about the same time, was recited both to the boys at Clifton and to some of Brown's friends..

Wordsworth's Castle refers to Peel Castle - the lines by Wordsworth actually refer to Peele on the Foudrey near Barrow. The Manx Peel Castle was also popularised by Sir Walter Scott in Peveril of the Peak - T.E.B. apparently was an avid reader of Scott in his youth though his father refused to allow the books into the vicarage



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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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