Lancashire In 1862.
Title:Lancashire in 1862
Published in:Preston, Lancashire
Date:3rd Jan 1863
Unusually for Lancashire Cotton Famine poetry, this piece is composed in blank verse, the unrhymed iambic pentameter used in much of Shakespeare’s dramatic works, and Milton’s Paradise Lost .This form, along with heroic couplets, is the favoured medium for the epic in English, and this poem, whilst not so long that it would not be published in a newspaper, is appropriately expansive in its subject, sophisticated in its language, and lofty in its ideals. Indeed, the use of martial imagery, despite this being a celebration of ordinary people in times of great financial hardship, suggests that the poet is deliberately referencing not just military bravery itself, but its celebration in verse, in order to foreground the heroism of the people of Lancashire in the face of the Cotton Famine. Examples like this illustrate the importance of form to Victorian poetics, and suggest that in a cultural sense, it becomes and underlying language in itself, woven through poetic subject, voice, and imagery.
James Bowker proves himself adept at two very different poetic styles when this piece is compared to his ‘Hard Times; Or, Th’Weyvur to his Wife’. Bowker also wrote the prose work, Goblin Tales of Lancashire, which in its exploration of regional legend frames Lancashire dialect accounts with standard English prose. ‘Lancashire in 1862’ in a sense mythologises its subject and attempts to glorify the people of the region by highlighting the nobility if their attitude to the suffering they are subjected to. To some extent, this poem foreshadows the tone and content of Abraham Lincoln’s letter to the people of the region written just fifteen days after this poem was published. – SR.