A Mother’s Lament

A Mother’s Lament

They’ve took me li’l boy – me li’l Johnny –
What for did they take a li’l chile?
When the sun gives a glint through the winders
I’m thinkin’ I’m seein’ him smile.
Then the win’ roun’ the dhure gives a clatter
An’ I’m thinkin’ it’s Johnny for all
Comin’ runnin’ home from the haggard,
Or scrapin’ his feet ‘gin the wall.


They say that he’s up theer in Heaven
In a wunnerful, bright shinin’ worl’.
But what would a chile be wantin’
With gates o’ mother o’ pearl?
He’ll be friken of all that grandeur
An’ wantin’ home to his tay;
An’ be runnin’ an’ cryin’ for Mammy,
An’ he wunt be for findin’ his way.


They say that I’m “quare” since he lef’ me;
That the ways o’ the Lord is the bes’.
It’s not “quare” that I am – but longin’
With me heart like lead in me breas’.
An’ me arms fair achin’ to grip him
An’ howl him close – the veg veen!
Aw Johnny! Aw Johnny! they’re empty! –
An’ it’s only the longin’ tha’s in.


I wouldn’ be feelin’ so badly
If I thought ’twas to Jesus he’d gone,
An’ be playin’ roun’ the flowers in some garden,
Or sailin’ his boat on a pon’.
D’you think that p’raps the Lord Jesus
Would be havin’ a kitten or so?
An’ mebbe a li’l pup for to play with
Or a meg lamb to feed. – Would He though?


I’m thinkin’ I wouldn’ be frettin’
If I knew there was animals theer,
For Johnny was fon’ o’ them awful
An’ with him the li’l things had no fear.
If I thry to get thinkin’ he’s happy
P’raps me heart wunt be feelin’ so sore;
An’ me feet wunt be trampin’ so heavy
Roun’ them fiel’s wheer he’ll scamper no more.

dhure = door
friken = frightened
veg veen = little dear

(source: ‘This Purple-Misted Isle‘, Manx Poems by Kathleen Faragher; artwork is ‘Portrait of a Boy in a Top Hat‘ by John Opie)

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.

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