Publication:Burnley Free Press And General Advertiser
Date:5th September 1863
This thirty-six line poem is arranged in six six-line stanzas (sestets) with a distinctive pattern of two short lines followed by a longer one and the same pattern repeated. There is a broadly dactylic metre (stress / unstresss / unstress) which is more apparent if one reads across the lines to take account of the unstressed syllable which begins each: ‘Un, if we are starving,
/ It’s what we’re deserving, / It’s all o’ His goodness we’re lettun tu live’.
The poem is in the voice of the titular character, ‘Thenkful Jone’, presumably the same Jone who appears with words of wisdom in ‘Th’ Petched Shirt’ by the same poet. The piece appears an encouragement to accept one’s lot in the face of hardship and though clearly expressed through a fictional character, it aligns with sentiments of positive thinking in Cunliam’s ‘Work, Lads, and Think’. There are some interesting domestic details such as the reference to bacon and peas that are doled out by the relief committees, and the determination of the speaker to mark the end of the war, when it comes, by the lighting of candles for the front window of the house. The first and last two stanzas suggest a religious attitude to the suffering, but do not call for divine intervention. Rather, there is the opinion that suffering must be morally justified if God allows it, and that sufferers should be thankful for what they do receive. I remember a saying from my Manchester childhood – ‘you’ll get what you’re given and be thankful’ – which though a secularised version, may well relate to this historical attitude to poverty and its effects.