Thomas Edward Brown

I’M here at Clifton, grinding at the mill
My feet for thrice nine barren years have trod;
But there are rocks and waves at Scarlett still,
And gorse runs riot in Glen Chass—thank God!

Alert, I seek exactitude of rule,
I step, and square my shoulders with the squad;
But there are blaeberries on old Barrule,
And Langness has its heather still—thank God!

There is no silence here : the truculent quack
Insists with acrid shriek my ears to prod,
And, if I stop them, fumes ; but there’s no lack
Of silence still on Carraghyn—thank God!

Pragmatic fibs surround my soul, and bate it
With measured phrase, that asks the assenting nod;
I rise, and say the bitter thing, and hate it—
But Wordsworth’s castle’s still at Peel—thank God!

O broken life ! O wretched bits of being,
Unrhythrnic, patched, the even and the odd!
But Bradda still has lichens worth the seeing,
And thunder in her caves—thank God ! thank God!

The "mill" here is the leading British boys' school, Clifton College and Brown's daily grind was his role as a leading teacher. He was obviously thinking of his native Isle of Man with some nostalgia at this time. Whatever discontent there was at this time (the poem was originally written only six years into his tenure), Brown got over it and spent another 24 very successful years at Clifton, before finally retiring to the Isle of Man in 1892.

Scarlett rocks are south of Castletown on the Isle of Man. The other locations are also spots on the Isle of Man.

"Wordsworth's Castle" refers to Peel Castle, on an island off the town of Peel on the west coast of the Isle of Man. Barrule is a hill, said to be the home of the Manx sea god Macannan. Langness is a peninsula forming the South-East tip of the island.