Mannanin Beg’s Isle


(Prize Poem, D.S.S.)

Somewhere in Mona’s verdant isle there lies
A landscape formed of pastures, farms, and trees,
Enclosed on three sides by mountains high
With pointed peaks picked out against the sky;
And on the fourth side rippling wavelets dance,
Reflecting beams from rising sun; one glance
Is sufficient to entrance the gazer’s wistful eye,
And fill his soul with joy, while fantasy
Grips at his heart and gives to him a new
Conception of fair Mannin. Crystals of dew
Hanging upon each petalled flower in early morn
Are changed to pearls when seen in the grey dawn;
Then rubies are, when tinged with crimson red
Reflected from the sun’s great fiery bed
As day grows older. Then the rooster crows,
Awakening all the countryside from doze,
And daily tasks begin again and toil,
And in high fields the ploughman tills the soil.
The sheep-bells tinkle on the mountainside,
And frisking lambs, if Spring, are soon descried.
If it is Summer late, the distant sound
Of reapers in the corn, and o’er the ground
The droning bee goes humming on its way,
All the live murmur of a summer’s day.
When not quite summer but yet late in spring,
And swallows to the river-rushes cling,
When gorse is out in bloom with golden crest,
The time when I like Ellan Vannin best
And then the sun sinks slowly in the west,
Retiring into liquid fire to rest.
The trees and bushes all alike with gold
Are tinges, revealing wonders all untold.
(End of poem sent in for competition)

(Lines added afterwards, and alternatives)
There on the fourth side rippling wavelets dance
In sparkling beauty and their gleams enhance
The loveliness that garbs the country scene.
Here live the hearty crofters, slow but keen,
And here the little fields lie in the sun
And narrow lanes into the mountains run.
Small torrents from the hillsides leap along
With many a roar and gurgle, many a song.
Over the pastures move the fat white sheep,
And cattle graze in peace, almost asleep.
Here apples grow, and pears, with rosy cheeks,
And cherries, and the berries that one seeks
In brambled hedges when the summer’s heat
Has ripened all the nodding heads of wheat.
Then there is heard the rattling sound of knives
As clatt’ring reapers cut; the farmers’ wives
Come to the fields with food for hungry men,
And chatter fills the air. The children then
With laughing shouts play in the fallen corn;
The dogs bark madly as at hunter’s horn,
So can be heard while horses champ and neigh
The noisy clamour of a summer’s day.
Soon shadows fall and grey dusk veils will creep
Over the silent fields and cropping sheep,
But then the moon all golden will arise
To look upon the scene with smiling eyes,
And over every pasture, farm and tree
Is thrown a lovely mantle silvery.