The Water Bull


Among the strange immortals of our land,

Mona’s sweet Isle, long famed in verse and song,

There is a creature seen when moon is full;

Yn Tarroo Ushtey, or the Water Bull,

A denizen of marshes, there among

The reeds and rushes would he take his stand

‘Mid clammy mists and vapours.

So with bland

Unwinking eyes he stared out to the hills,

Lonely and secret, none his lot to share;

Opening his snowy muzzle on the air

To bellow faintly as from ancient ills

Or a deep bovine urging to command.


Often when summer’s heat gave place to cool

Chill breaths of autumn and the sun’s white fire

Mellowed to golden glow he could be seen

With strong head lifted, and the silky sheen

Of snowy flanks would glimmer in the mire,

Ere he would fade into the silent pool

Among the slates and rushes of Barool.

‘Twas said by some he waited to devour

Some night wayfarer should he chance to stray

Too near the pool, or e’en the waterway

Of river, at some dark and lonely hour

And some said who believed it was a fool.


And others said he searched, but searched in vain

For kith and kindred, for a lonely life

Was his in solit’ry wandering.

Some were who said he was an Arctic king

And had ta’en a seal-girl for his wife,

And been condemned to suffer grief and pain.

And some who said he was a hero slain

On a forgotten and far distant battlefield,

Who came to haunt the fields and valleys deep

While mortals in their beds were fast asleep:

Still seeking comrade, battle spear and shield,

Not knowing such would never come again.


Mona’s Herald     7.1.64