The Lancashire Hills

The Lancashire hills stand towering high,
Their summits are tinged with gold;
The valleys are clothed with rich living green,
Their beauties can never be told.
As we speed on the rail, - imposing sight!
We may look at the clear sparkling rills,
Then turn our eyes upward, there to behold
The beautiful Lancashire hills.
The scenery’s grand, beyond all compare,
But ‘tis sad to behold those num’rous mills
All standing in silence, deserted, and lone,
At the foot of these beautiful hills.
Ah! when will the better times come, my poor boys?
When again may you go to the mills?
So merry and gay, you will then wend your way,
To your work near the beautiful hills.
In gratitude then your voices you’ll raise,
Whilst working you are at the mills,
With joy and delight you’ll smile at the sight,
Of the beautiful Lancashire hills.
May this good time draw near, and banish all fear,
When you’ll haste with delight to the mills;
Then, oh, with what joy the Lancashire boy
Will climb up these beautiful hills.
The hearts of their parents will likewise be glad –
They also will haste to the mills;
They’ll view with delight the glorious sight
Of the beautiful Lancashire hills.
Oh hasten the time thou Giver of good!
Supply thy poor people with bread;
All, all are thy workmanship – merciful Lord,
Let them by bounty be fed.
Burnley July 30th

Title:The Lancashire Hills

Author:E____h W____n

Publication:Burnley Free Press And General Advertiser

Published in:Burnley

Date:1st August 1863

Keywords:poverty, religion, unemployment


This poem of eight quatrains alternates iambs and anapaests in a songlike rhythm which jars slightly against its theme of poverty. However this jarring is at least consistent as the beauty of Lancashire is celebrated even as the misery of its people is described. The rhyme scheme is ABCB throughout but although the first and last stanzas have their own rhyme sounds, all the stanzas enclosed between end with the use of the ‘ills’ sound as the rhyme ending: the second stanza rhymes ‘rills’ with ‘hills’, whilst the next five stanzas all rhyme ‘mills’ with ‘hills’. Inevitably, this reads quite repetitively, and this is perhaps not the most inventive of poems. Also notable is the occasional use of internal rhyme in some of the stanzas’ third lines. The term ‘rill’, which is a now archaic word for a small river, persisted in usage only in poetry for quite a while through the nineteenth century, usually in order to rhyme with, you’ve guessed it, ‘hill’.

Apart from simply celebrating the locality of Lancashire this poem might be intended almost as an example of tourism literature and be facing outward in its address. Lancashire obviously borders Wordsworth’s famed Lake District, and historically included some of what is now known as part of Cumbria, so this appeal to readers’ Romantic sensibilities might be seen as a way of recruiting the region’s geography in the service of its people.

- SR.