Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Forget Hardy, William Barnes is Dorset's greatest figure

I was delighted to read a spirited clarion call for my favourite poet in today's Guardian.

The words of this linguist and preacher sing out from Blackmore Vale. They are hard, humorous and languid.

Here is an example,
The Wife A-Lost

Since I noo mwore do zee your fe{"a}ce,
Up ste{"a}rs or down below,
I'll zit me in the lwonesome ple{"a}ce,
Where flat-bough'd beech do grow;
Below the beeches' bough, my love,
Where you did never come,
An' I don't look to meet ye now,
As I do look at hwome.

Since you noo mwore be at my zide,
In walks in zummer het,
I'll goo alwone where mist do ride,
Drough trees a-drippèn wet;
Below the ra{"i}n-wet bough, my love,
Where you did never come,
An' I don't grieve to miss ye now,
As I do grieve at hwome.

Since now bezide my dinner-bwoard
Your va{"i}ce do never sound,
I'll eat the bit I can avword,
A-vield upon the ground;
Below the darksome bough, my love,
Where you did never dine,
An' I don't grieve to miss ye now,
As I at hwome do pine.

Since I do miss your va{"i}ce an' fe{"a}ce
In pra{"y}er at eventide,
I'll pray wi' woone sad va{"i}ce vor gre{"a}ce
To goo where you do bide;
Above the tree an' bough, my love,
Where you be gone avore,
An' be a-w{"a}itèn vor me now,
To come vor evermwore.
Which has to be one of the great love poems in English.

So yes, I take up the suggestion of Paul Kingsnorth. Lets make the 22nd Feb Barnes Night.

Washing down your Lettuce Soup, Lamb saddle and of course Barnes' own Apple Cake
“He's nice an' moist;
vor when I were a-meakin o'n,
I stuck some bots ov apple in the dough”.
with lashings of the finest Ale and Cider.

And try this one for size, The Witch


Anonymous said...

truly lovely. But can you help me out? What is the nearest modern word for "Drough" and "avword"?

Gawain Towler said...

'Through' and 'afford' I think