Droylsden. A Droylsden Shopkeeper’s Lament.

When working ceased and times went bad
Folks had no cash to spend;
I trusted out what stock I had,
In hopes that times would mend.
For years I’d worked and struggled hard,
A little cash to save,
I’d sailed through every trying storm,
And battled every wave.
But now, alas! where is my stock –
Where is my little bark?
‘Tis lost, ‘tis shivered on a rock,
And all around is dark.
And who shall save the little crew –
My children and my wife?
Must we all starve, and bid adieu
Unto the storms of life?
I through the darkness now can spy
A lifeboat near at hand;
But O! alas it doth deny
A passage to the land.
Away, away, it slowly speeds,
Nor hears a neighbour’s cry;
To serve a foreign tradesman’s needs
‘Twill pass a neighbour by.
O! thou unfeeling lifeboat crew –
O! ruthless Droylsden gents!
Each Droylsden shopkeeper ye screw,
And more than one laments.



Publication:Ashton And Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:Jan 31st 1863

Keywords:family, inequality, poverty, work


This anonymous poet narrates the experience of a shopkeeper in the town of Droylsden, offering insight into the ways in which the effects of the Cotton Famine were felt beyond the cotton industry. The author laments that, having done what he could to help struggling operatives by giving out his stock on trust, he has been left destitute himself. He blames the ‘ruthless Droylsden gents’ – presumably referring to better-off inhabitants with the means, but not the inclination, to help shopkeepers through the crisis. – RM.

This poem of twenty-eight lines arranged in seven quatrains is written in quite regular ballad metre – alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter – with a simple ABAB rhyme scheme for each stanza. The form of address is in the first person and in this case the reader is encouraged to associate the real poet with an actual shop keeper from the town of Droyslden between Manchester and Ashton-Under-Lyne. – SR