The story behind ‘Manannan’s Cloak’
Poet Alison Stedman tells the story behind the poem 'Manannan's Cloak'.
The Isle of Man (or in Manx Gaelic, Ellan Vannin), became my home in 2012. It is an island 33miles long and 13 miles wide in the Irish Sea; part of the British Isles, but with its own government, the oldest in the world. It has its own currency and the Manx Gaelic is still taught in schools. It is a beautiful place to live and you are never far from a bay, sea side town or the hills and countryside. It has the world’s largest working water wheel in Laxey, the tail-less cat and Loaghtan sheep with extra horns. It is probably most well- known as the venue for the annual Tourist Trophy (TT) motorbike races, which I wrote my impression of in another poem, “The Swarm.” There are many ancient traditions, superstitions and legends too. One legend is about an ancient mythical sea god Manannan.
Manannan was said to come up out of the sea conjuring up his magical cloak of mist which he wrapped around the island in order to protect it from invaders. Indeed the thick mist that descends does a good job of disrupting travel to and from the island. Planes and ferries can be delayed for several hours or cancelled if it doesn’t clear. Manannan’s cloak is now rather unwelcome. In my poem, I wanted to convey the mist, but also that the modern-day island (with the female persona of Ellan Vannin) feels rather trapped by Manannan’s unwelcomed protection and attention. She is rescued by the conquering sun’s rays, who like a hero forces the possessive lover back into the sea, to reflect on how our weather can suddenly change and a beautiful day can follow a misty start.
About ‘Raised from Dust’
In this collection of poems, Alison takes us on a journey around the world, from the familiar sight of a homeless man on the streets to the wonders of Asian countryside and culture. With sentiments echoing Ecclesiastes, she mourns the transient nature of our lives and all that we see around us. She then flips the coin and explores birth and rebirth, leading to a hope that transcends our temporal existence here on earth.
So reported Moira Kleisnner in the Baptist Times in her review of Raised from Dust, a powerful collection of poems by Alison Stedman. “There is no doubt that Alison Stedman is a fine poet. The book makes a good read, painting word pictures for reflection....