October 28, 2004

Hay poems in the vernacular of William Barnes.

William Barnes.William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Round Things”

William Barnes (1801-1886).

William Barnes (1801-1886).

William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Hay-Meaken. Nunchen Time”

William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Between Haymaking and Harvest”

Hodgson. Farmer's dream. 19th c.Barnes is notable for his attempt to capture the dialect of Dorset in verse, half-a-century before Hardy’s more famous literary evocation of the same region. Well-educated, as local teacher and curate, Barnes wrote with charming affection of the worklife and folkways of his rural neighbors. The line which concludes his poem on “Nunchen [lunch] Time” (the welcome hayfield rest period, subject of so many nineteenth century painters)--“I do like theäse wold teäles. Let's hear”--perfectly epitomizes his enthusiasm and attentiveness to oral traditions.

Ritch. Haystacks. County Clare. 1987.William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Round Things”
from Poems of Rural Life in Common English (1868)] [extract]

A fairy ring as round's the sun,
Beside the lea would bend its rim,
And near at hand the waves would run
Across the pond with rounded brim.
And there, by round-built ricks of hay,
By sun-heat burnt, by sunshine brown'd,
We met in merry ring, to play,
All springing on, and wheeling round.

Pissarro. Harvest at Montfoucault. 1876.William Barnes (1801-1886).
from Poems of Rural Life in Common English (1866)] [extract]

'Tis merry ov a zummer's day,
Where vo'k be out a-meäkèn hay;
Where men an' women, in a string,
Do ted or turn the grass, an' zing,
Wi' cheemèn vaïces, merry zongs,
A-tossèn o' their sheenèn prongs
Wi' eärms a-zwangèn left an' right,
In colour'd gowns an' shirt sleeves white;
Or, wider spread, a reäkèn round
The rwosy hedges o' the ground,
Where Sam do zee the speckled sneäke,
An' try to kill en wi' his reäke;
An' Poll do jump about an' squall,
To zee the twistèn slooworm crawl.

Tis merry when a gaÿ-tongued lot
Ov hay-meäkers be all a-squot,
On lightly-russlèn hay, a-spread
Below an elem's lofty head,
To rest their weary limbs an' munch
Their bit o' dinner, or their nunch;
[Page 58]
Where teethy reäkes do lie all round
By picks a-stuck up into ground.
An' wi' their vittles in their laps,
An' in their tinnèn cups their draps
O' cider sweet, or frothy eäle,
Their tongues do run wi' joke an' teäle.

An' when the zun, so low an' red,
Do sheen above the leafy head
O' zome broad tree, a-rizèn high
Avore the vi'ry western sky,
'Tis merry where all han's do goo
Athirt the grou'n, by two an' two,
A-reäkèn, over humps an' hollors.
The russlèn grass up into rollers.
An' woone do row it into line,
An' woone do clwose it up behine;
An' after them the little bwoys
Do stride an' fling their eärms all woys,
Wi' busy picks, an' proud young looks
A-meäkèn up their tiny pooks.
An' zoo 'tis merry out among
The vo'k in hay-vield all day long.

Wilson. Haymaking. 19th c.William Barnes (1801-1886).
from Poems of Rural Life in Common English (1866)]

'Tis merry ov a zummer's day,
When vo'k be out a-haulèn hay,
Where boughs, a-spread upon the ground,
Do meäke the staddle big an' round;
[Page 59]
An' grass do stand in pook, or lie
In long-backed weäles or parsels, dry.
There I do vind it stir my heart
To hear the frothèn hosses snort,
A-haulèn on, wi' sleek heäir'd hides,
The red-wheel'd waggon's deep-blue zides.
Aye; let me have woone cup o' drink,
An' hear the linky harness clink,
An' then my blood do run so warm,
An' put sich strangth 'ithin my eärm,
That I do long to toss a pick,
A-pitchèn or a-meäkèn rick.

The bwoy is at the hosse's head,
An' up upon the waggon bed
The lwoaders, strong o' eärm do stan',
At head, an' back at taïl, a man,
Wi' skill to build the lwoad upright
An' bind the vwolded corners tight;
An' at each zide o'm, sprack an' strong,
A pitcher wi' his long-stem'd prong,
Avore the best two women now
A-call'd to reäky after plough.

When I do pitchy, 'tis my pride
Vor Jenny Hine to reäke my zide,
An' zee her fling her reäke, an' reach
So vur, an' teäke in sich a streech;
An' I don't shatter hay, an' meäke
Mwore work than needs vor Jenny's reäke.
I'd sooner zee the weäles' high rows
Lik' hedges up above my nose,
[Page 60]
Than have light work myzelf, an' vind
Poor Jeäne a-beät an' left behind;
Vor she would sooner drop down dead,
Than let the pitchers get a-head.

'Tis merry at the rick to zee
How picks do wag, an' hay do vlee.
While woone's unlwoadèn, woone do teäke
The pitches in; an' zome do meäke
The lofty rick upright an' roun',
An' tread en hard, an' reäke en down,
An' tip en, when the zun do zet,
To shoot a sudden vall o' wet.
An' zoo 'tis merry any day
Where vo'k be out a-carrèn hay.

Radclyffe. Rest. 1870.William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Hay-Meaken. Nunchen Time”
from Poems of Rural Life in Common English Second Collection (1863)]

Back here, but now, the jobber John
Come by, an' cried, "Well done, zing on,
I thought as I come down the hill,
An' heärd your zongs a-ringèn sh'ill,
Who woudden like to come, an' fling
A peäir o' prongs where you did zing?"
Aye, aye, he woudden vind it plaÿ,
To work all day a-meäkèn hay,
Or pitchèn o't, to eärms a-spread
By lwoaders, yards above his head,
'T'ud meäke en wipe his drippèn brow.
Or else a-reäkèn a'ter plow.
[Page 8]
Or workèn, wi' his nimble pick,
A-stiffled wi' the hay, at rick.
Our Company would suit en best,
When we do teäke our bit o' rest,
At nunch, a-gather'd here below
The sheäde theäse wide-bough'd woak do drow,
Where hissèn froth mid rise, an' float
In horns o' eäle, to wet his droat.
Aye, if his swellèn han' could drag
A meat-slice vrom his dinner bag.
'T'ud meäke the busy little chap
Look rather glum, to zee his lap
Wi' all his meal ov woone dry crowst,
An' vinny cheese so dry as dowst.
Well, I dont grumble at my food,
'Tis wholesome, John, an' zoo 'tis good.
Whose reäke is that a-lyèn there?
Do look a bit the woo'se vor wear.
Oh! I mus' get the man to meäke
A tooth or two vor thik wold reäke,
'Tis leäbor lost to strike a stroke
Wi' him, wi' ha'f his teeth a-broke.
I should ha' thought your han' too fine
To break your reäke, if I broke mine.
[Page 9]
The ramsclaws thin'd his wooden gum
O' two teeth here, an' here were zome
That broke off when I reäk'd a patch
O' groun' wi' Jimmy, vor a match:
An' here's a gap where woone or two
Wer broke by Simon's clumsy shoe,
An' when I gi'ed his poll a poke,
Vor better luck, another broke.
In what a veag have you a-swung
Your pick, though, John? His stem's a-sprung.
When I an' Simon had a het
O' pookèn, yonder, vor a bet,
The prongs o'n gi'd a tump a poke,
An' then I vound the stem o'n broke,
But they do meäke the stems o' picks
O' stuff so brittle as a kicks.
There's poor wold Jeäne, wi' wrinkled skin,
A-tellèn, wi' her peakèd chin,
Zome teäle ov her young days, poor soul.
Do meäke the young-woones smile. 'Tis droll.
What is it? Stop, an' let's goo near.
I do like theäse wold teäles. Let's hear.

Ritch. Wiltshire Wheat. 2004.William Barnes (1801-1886).
“Between Haymaking and Harvest” [lines 10-27]
from Poems of Rural Life in Common English (1868)] [extract]

[Page 119 ]
Along the swath with even side,
The meadow flow'rs have fall'n and died,
And wither'd, rustling dry;
And in between the hay-wale's backs,
The waggon wheels have cut their tracks,
With loads of hay built high,
and bound,
And ev'ry rick with peakèd crown,
Is now down-toned to yellow brown,
And sunburnt, two-thirds round.
The clouds now ride at upper height,
Above the barley yellow white;
By lane and hedge; along
The fields of wheat, that ripen red,
And slowly reel, with giddy head,
In wind that streams full strong,
by copse,
And grass-field, where the cows lie down
Among the bent-grass, ruddy brown,
And thistles' purple tops.

Posted by Alan Ritch at October 28, 2004 01:02 PM