or Shooting Rooks with the Divil


Theer’s no such thing as convarsion thou’re sayin’?
An’ it’s only a lot of oul’ boghned this prayin’?
Well, maybe it is, an’ maybe it’s not,
An’ maybe theer’s a heaven, an’ another place hot,
An’ maybe theer’s angels or some such things in,
An’ maybe theer’s divils as ugly as sin –
I wouldn’ be knowin’, not at fus’ han’, I mane,
For I navar had truck with yonder insane;
But some folks sez, “Yis, in the twink of an eye
The bad uns can change till thee’re good enough to die.

An’ that was the way with young Stevie Mylchrees’,
Who was avar in trouble with gals an’ police.
Well, it come about this way. Young Stevie, it seems,
Was turrble afflicted at night with his dreams.
An’ sometimes they h’ard him give rip-roarin’ screams.
Aspecially when he’d had pickles an’ cheese
Of which he was fon’, it was lek a disease.

Well, this night when it happened he tossed an’ he groaned,
He rolled roun’ in pain, an’ he sweated an’ moaned,
An’ his parents awakened by all the wil’ din,
Were afeared he’d be tuk for his guilt an’ his sin;
For his han’s bate the air with his fingers lek claws,
An’ he thrashed an’ he panted without any pause,
An he cried out for marcy an’ shouted for aid,
Till at las’ quite exhausted all stwill was he laid,
An’ his oul’ folks thought sure he was gone an’ was dead,
But he opened his eyes an’ seein’ them theer,
He said he was battha, they need have no fear,
An’ purseeded to tell of the nightmeer he’d had,
While they listened all thremblin’ along o’ the lad.

It seems that he dreamt he was surrounded by rooks,
Rooks with great beaks an’ talons lek hooks,
That flew all aroun’ an’ above an’ below
Lek a blizzard of soot or ebony snow,
An’ someone was bangin’ away with a gun,
An’ shootin’ an’ shoutin’ “I’ll kill avaryone!”
An’ then Stevie himself had a gun in his han’,
An’ was shootin’ lek mad. Avary rook was a man!

Aw, ‘deed, he knew all their faces. Then the Divil, oul’ Nick,
Hollered, “Gather them up, for thee’re mine! Come be quick!
Then he seen a big rook with a face that was his,
An’ the Divil yelled, “Get him, an’ be sure ye don’t miss;
For I mus’ have that falla, he’s the pride of me flock,
He’s the blackes’ of all!” Well, it give Steve a shock
So he woke with a shudder an’ felt much relief
That he vowed theer an’ then he would turn a new leaf,
Convarted he was, ay, converted dthallure,
An’ navar did no-one no jeal any more.

First prize Dialect Poem
Manx Music Festival 1970.