A Briton's Appeal.
Bardsley, July 19th, 1862.
Title:A Briton's Appeal
Author:John Parry (Boatbuilder)
Publication:Ashton And Stalybridge Reporter
Date:July 26th 1862
Keywords:domesticity, gender, morality, nationalism, politics, poverty, war
This is a fascinating, angry poem by a previously unknown poet, John Parry of Bardsley, who describes himself as a boat builder. Parry paints a bleak picture of the devastation wrought by the Cotton Famine, contrasting idyllic pastoral scenes of a happy labourer’s cottage with hunger, disease, and death. These scenes are deployed in an appeal for Britain to intervene in the American Civil War, in terms which express considerable anger against the “Yankee nation” which “deals in blood”. Though “Yankee” in this period did not refer specifically to the Union, Parry does appear ambivalent about, even scornful of, the emancipatory aims of the North, urging Britain to “Brook not the insult of a slave’s own slave.” In spite of an apparent frustration with Britain’s inaction in the crisis, Parry refers to the nation in celebratory terms, lauding it as “protectoress of the free” and emphasising its reputation for military greatness. – RM
This poem is ambitious in its subject and its form. The choice of iambic pentameter in rhyming couplets is deliberate, adopting one of the two traditional epic forms in English poetry, heroic couplets (the other epic form is unrhymed iambic pentameter or ‘blank verse’). Where the ambition lies in this poem, apart from its relative length, its serious subject matter, and its formal, slightly archaic language (‘thy’, ‘bedamps’), is in its sentence structures. Many of its stanzas (the first, second, and fifth in particular) are composed of one long sentence made up of complex clauses, and this has the effect of creating tension in the reader and placing heavy emphasis on the concluding statements.- SR