The Lancashire Factory Girl. (An “Ower True” Picture.)
Title:The Lancashire Factory Girl (An "Ower True" Picture)
Published in:Preston, Lancashire
This poem of fifteen quatrains remains in quite strict ballad metre throughout, with alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeters. The poem uses the four line stanzas to discuss different aspects of the subject’s life, and different characters from it, and though there is an occasional refrain of ‘all, all are gone’ there is a sense of narrative movement throughout. The speaker of the poem is the factory girl herself, and as a lyric poem we are encouraged to sympathise with the voice, but we have not yet identified ‘H. M.’ so it is not possible to ascertain whether this was written by a man or a woman, or to what extent the author identified with or was familiar with the issues being discussed here.
Faustus’s Paul Sartin has set this poem to music carefully transposing the mood of the original text into an appropriate melodic structure, and the centrality of the individual voice is emphasised by the harmonic framing. Though some of the text has been altered slightly for musical reasons, the emotional resonance of the original is maintained in full and the use of the first stanza, with its sense of a Cri de Coeur, is used as a chorus. One of the many interesting things about this text is its affirmation at the end of a positive image of working-class female morality, with the speaker maintaining that she has kept her ‘reputation’ despite temptations. The last stanza explicitly refers to the causal link between the American Civil war and the closure of the mills. – SR.