The Lancashire Hills
Title:The Lancashire Hills
Publication:Burnley Free Press And General Advertiser
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.