Manx Dialect Verse

This is an extract from an article I read today, published by Culture Vannin, the island's culture and heritage organisation.  I love the Manx dialect poems.

One of the most important and best-loved poems ever written of the Isle of Man was first published on this day in 1873:    T. E. Brown's 'Betsy Lee'.
This heartbreaking story of love lost in the cruelty of fate was first seen by the public through its being published in the Isle of Man Times in a series of articles (at the same time as appearing in Macmillan’s Magazine).    The first installation included perhaps the most well-known and most-loved lines of all poetry of the Isle of Man:

"Now the beauty of the thing when childher plays is
The terrible wonderful length the days is.
Up you jumps, and out in the sun.
And you fancy the day will never be done:
And you’re chasin the bumbees hummin so cross
In the hot sweet air among the goss,
Or gath’rin blue-bells, or lookin for eggs,
Or peltin the ducks with their yalla legs,
Or a climbin, and nearly breakin your skulls,
Or a shoutin for divilment after the gulls,
Or a thinkin of nothin, but down at the tide,
Singin out for the happy you feel inside.
That’s the way with the kids, you know,
And the years do come and the years do go.
And when you look back it’s all like a puff,
Happy and over and short enough."
It is hard to believe that these lines, the story they connect to, and, through them, T. E. Brown as a voice of the Manx people, are only 146 years old. But perhaps this just shows how important this beautiful poem has become to us all over the intervening years.
The full poem can be enjoyed online here:
'Besty Lee' is the first of the Manx National Poet's great 'Fo'c's'le Yarns' series of wonderful tales told in Manx dialect verse. All of the poems are available on the Manx Literature website here:
Listening to T. E. Brown's dialect verse read aloud comes highly recommended. A couple of recordings of extracts from Betsy Lee we might recommend are as follows:
* John Kennaugh:
* Deborah Taubmen:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Yes, I understand that it was also commonly found in other dialects too, such as Lancashire anand Ireland.

  2. I have friends in the I O M, both of whom were head teachers - I am sure they know the poem. I must talk to them about it.

    1. If they know about Culture Vannin they will probably be familiar with several manx dialect pieces.


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