Yn Tarroo Ushtey: The Water Bull


Among the strange immortals of our land,
Mona’s sweet isle, long famed in verse and song,
A creature that is 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 started out to the hills,
Lonely and secret, none his lot to share,
Opening his snowy muzzle on the air
To bellow faintly as from fancied ills,
Or other bovine fancy to command.

Often when summer’s heat gave place to cool
Chill breath of autumn and 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 bushes of Barrule.
‘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
Or river, at some dark and lonely hour.
And some said who believed it was a fool.

And some said that he searched, but searched in vain
For kith and kindred, for a lonely life
Was his in solit’ry wandering.
And some that said he was an Arctic king
And he had ta’an a seal-girl for his wife,
And been condemned to suffer grief and pain;
And others said he was a hero slain
On some forgotten and far distant battlefield,
And came to haunt the fields and valleys deep
While mortals in their beds were fast asleep,
And still sought comrade, spear and shield,
Not knowing they would never come again.