The Cotton Famine – Christmas, 1862
Title:The Cotton Famine – Christmas, 1862
Publication:Burnley Free Press And General Advertiser
Date:1st March 1863
Keywords:charity, domesticity, poverty, slavery
This poem is written in the form of a traditional Petrarchan sonnet with an octet followed by a sestet featuring distinct rhyme schemes despite there being no formal stanza break between them. The rhyme scheme for this piece is a very traditional ABBAABBA CDCDCD and the language used also is classical, with archaic compressions such as ‘bless’d’ and ‘stain’d’ helping to maintain the rhythm.
The classic virtues Faith, Hope, and Charity are referred to in this poem and there is a relatively rare explicit reference to the Lancastrian cotton industry’s former complicity in the American slave trade. The winter of 1862 was generally believed to have been the low point of the Cotton Famine in many parts of the region because the bad weather combined with the increasing economic effects of the blockade, and relief efforts had not yet been organised to sufficiently cope with the extent of the crisis.