I think thy fortune hard, my friend and brother bard,
Thou gifted singer of the homely rhyme;
Bereft as thou has been, this sublunary scene
Must seem bedimmed and mournful for a time.
Thou art alone at last, and memories of the past
Sweep through thy brain on pinions of gloom,
The while thy tears o’erflow, whether thou wilt or no,
For one within the refuge of the tomb.
But though thou’rt thus bereft, and desolately left,
Bowed down in grief beneath the chastening rod,
Thou wilt not now rebel, but deem that all is well,
And own the power and mercy of thy God.
But when disposed to muse, in many shapes and hues
Chaotic thought give sadness to thy mind,
And brooding on thy loss, strange shadows flit across
Like scattered cloudlets driven by the wind.
The truth and tenderness of her whom then didst bless
Recurs to thee, and stirs thy inmost heart;
Thou askest with a moan, “Oh! why am I alone,
“Deprived of her whose love cured every smart?”
Since sorrow’s voice is in vain, ‘tis weakness to complain,
‘Tis sinful and rebellious to the Just;
And thou hast work to do should make thee strong and true,
And not unmindful of thy sacred trust.
She who was friend and wife, the soother of thy life
Who charmed thee and sustained thee day by day,
The mother of those three who prattle at thy knee,
May watch thee from the realms of perfect ray.
Had she remained with thee those darlings at thy knee
Might have bloomed well beneath her guardian eye;
But since she is not here, for sake of one so dear,
Hope on and strive to train them for the sky.
May her sweet spirit now shed light upon each brow,
And watch them grow in goodness and in grace,
Till they are fit to climb into that realm sublime
Where she has found a perfect dwelling-place.
And as for thee below who art o’whelmed with woe,
A sorrowing sinner on the face of earth,
May’st thou so faithful be that she may share with thee
A pure abiding home, after thy higher birth.
Hyde, 30th March. J.C. PRINCE.

Title:The Poet's Berevement

Author:J. C. Prince

Publication:Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:April 9th 1864

Keywords:death, femininity, religion, sorrow


This poem by the Lancashire poet John Critchley Prince is dedicated to his fellow poet Samuel Laycock and is in effect an elegy for Laycock’s wife, who had recently passed away. The affection and admiration expressed here gives us some insight into the extraordinary literary community which grew in this region during the Cotton Famine. There were similar local literary coteries in Rochdale, Blackburn, and many other Lancashire towns. Both Prince and Laycock published extensively during the Cotton Famine, but Laycock often used dialect, and was more direct in his assumption of labouring-class voices. Laycock lived on until the 1890s, but Prince died in 1866. – SR