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The Stranger

by Bernadette Weyde
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My! My! But yer git some surprises!
I was fair took aback, Mrs Gale!
Theer’s me born an’ bred on the sod here –
From the Lhen way we come – out near Smale,
An’ here’s this wan from Englan’ come over,
That nice an’ sof’ spoken an’ gran’,
An’ me shy as the firs’ shoal o’ herrin’,
Till she smiled an’ gripped howl o’ me han’.

 

Then I felt that I’d known her for years, gel,
As we talked o’ the weather an’ that,
An’ the jeel it was doin’ to the farmers;
An’ I towl her about me dawg an’ me cat.
Then some coppers dhropped arra me han’bag
An’ rowled over the flure in her way,
An’ she counted them back in me han’ theer
In rale MANX – “Nane, Jees, Tree, Kiare, Quieg, Shay!”

 

Well! I mus’ a looked a great big sof’ gorby
With me eyes poppin’ arra me head!
For she laughed as she said – “Mrs Quilliam,
Tell me who’s farmin’ now at Clagh Ard?
An’ what happened to Johnny-Jim-Fidder
An’ his li’l crof’ up theer in the glen?
I can still hear his gruff voice in greetin’
‘My lawse! is it you gel, tha’s in?’

 

An whenever I used to come over,
He would say – ‘Aw! They’re gone without fuss –
Harry-Jem, Nellie-Jane, Robbie-Neddy,
All gone gel! – Aye! Gone to the dus’!’
I remember too, li’l Tommy Curlid
With his big pan o’ priddhas each night
An’ a prin-jeag on him roun’ as a futball
An’ eyes twinklin’ with a wicked blue light!”

 

An’ her voice had took awn the Manx lilt theer,
Like li’l sthreams thricklin’ down in the glen,
An’ I knew she was English no longer
As she throd islan’ soil once again;
For she’d spent all the days of her chil’hood
On her gran’father’s place at Balkeown;
So it’s no wonder that me heart warmed towards her,
For the sowl, gel, was wan of our own!


Jeel – damage/harm
flure – floor
priddhas – potatoes
prin-jeag – stomach

(source: Where Curlews Call, Manx Poems by Kathleen Faragher, (1959; artwork Woman in a Fur Hat by Gretchen Woodman Rogers)

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