Foxdale Camp: Canto 3: Monday


1. The morn broke fair; how unlike yesterday
When clinging wetness covered everything!
Now on the dewy grass young sunbeams play,
And butterflies are early on the wing.
Nearby, in spinney, feathered warblers sing.
We are constrained to join them, and our throats
Pour out the harmony of the soul and bring
Charlie from out his slumber with rich notes.
Preparing for the village, he and Harry don their coats,

2. And eager trot away Kathleen to see,
I do not doubt. Arthur, with sinful zest,
Proclaims near Ballanass his destiny,
And thus sets off, fair Shiel his morning quest.
Frank is a bachelor, nor maiden breast
Harbours his love, cooking his interest begs.
I am the heartless wretch. She is not blest,
The maid who waits for me, so on swift legs
I fly to Corris’s, Gleneedle, for the eggs.

3. With the return of our ambassadors
Fell we upon the food, the on our backs
We basked in the great warm green out-o-doors
On ground sheet, blankets, overcoats and sacks.
Here is that rare place where man can relax
His bearing, and be wholly one with all
The throbbing hive of nature where she packs
Labour and joy so close they form a ball
Of latent energy from hills to flowers small.

4. A quaint thing is the small Foxdale express!
At three times in the day she snorts and clanks,
As some great fiery dragon in distress
That belches steam and rattle scaly flanks,
Or as a cavalcade of little tanks
In cobbled street, three times a day she puffs
Up the steep incline on the towering banks
Perched up above the steep and shelving bluffs
Over the slag-heaps. She a waiting mortal never huffs

5. Nor passes in a haughty proud disdain
But stops wheree’er he be, and takes him in
To carry him, nor feels the added strain.
She stayed to-day for us and so did win
Our admiration. We thought it no sin
To sing and jest and smoke, for – this is true –
We were the only trav’llers on the train
Beside the driver and his mate, so with these two
We quickly down the incline into St. John’s flew.

6. To Sunset City near the end of day
Came we and to the Raglan bent our feet
To sample what the maids should bring our way;
Fair Freda, jolly Dolly, Ivy sweet,
All with delighted faces our wants meet
With many a dainty morsel we are plied,
The more they bring to us the more we eat,
And champ our jaws till we are satisfied;
We rose at length with weary sigh and trooped outside.

7. Now Peel – or Sunset City, as the guests
Who visit it in summer name it, – Peel
Is quaint and rambling, and a charm invests
Its quiet streets where only small carts wheel
Along; here is no reign of lively steel,
No vulgar tramlines wrinkle its fair cheek,
No filthy slums abound, nor drunken squeal
Rings out to shatter peace; her let none seek
Thrills, for they come and go with market once a week.

8. In summer still, stiller in winter sleeps
The town but where the wind-flecked sea
In a half-circle round the headland sweeps,
Past the red crumbling castle, to the lee
Of Patrick’s Isle, there in abandon free
To charge the rocks and wall of promenade
That skirts the inner margin of the bay.
Only this wakes and keeps ceaseless parade
By the low-lying cliffs throughout the winter shade.

9. Upon this promenade there stands a hall
That seems to frail long to withstand the blast,
Yet never has it been alleged to fall,
As long as the gaunt castle it will last,
The one for present days, the other past.
Here is a show. We saw it, and did judge
According to the merits. Day waned fast
So to Maggie’s did four stout campers trudge.
Not Harry – he from his fair maiden would not budge.

10. Fair maiden? Yea. He hath in every port
One of that style, some dark, the others blonde,
Many are tall and others quite as short,
But all are lightly held in Harry’s bond.
For that lad never will to love respond.
His heart is much like mine in that respect,
Yet knows to simulate a manner fond.
At length within the bus we sat select,
And soon came Hal, his macintosh with cliff-soil flecked.

11. Inside this vehicle on springy seats
Sat we and talked all five incessantly
Over the spirals from five cigarettes,
As if we had not met but recently.
We thought Hal acted quite indecently
In not escorting his fair lady home
To dark Glenfaba; said so. Presently
The village of St. John’s did swiftly come
Round the long bend and alighted ‘neath a dome

12. Of stars, gem-studded purple canopy
That leaned upon Slieu Whallian’s shoulder here,
And farther off Barrule, where we would see
The young light of the unrisen moon appear,
Halooed around its guardian bulk; and clear
Uprose our Hill of Tynwald’s terraced flank
Beside the gaunt Memorial to rear.
We for this lovely night the Gods did thank,
And wondering stood, silent upon the flowered bank.

13. Anon five spots of light moved on the way,
Behind them five cigars stuck in a line,
Behind these then again in spirits gay
Walked arm in arm five youths, faces ashine
And redly glowing as if some rich wine
Had laid its mark thereon. Thus to the group
Of houses came at length, and gave the sign
of our arrival by the heavy troop
Of footsteps on the road and a wild frenzied whoop.

14. On a low whitewashed wall we sat. The night
Became alive with vibrant harmony.
Across the road one single candle-light
Glinted through moon-kissed casement. Arthur, he
Raised his rich voice. “Ramona” plaintively
Trilled forth. The light went out, and down the road
Crept we to Parr’s, there on the doorstep we
Laid our cigar-ends five, all neatly rowed,
The quietly strolled home to our bell-tent abode.