“Oh, Ring The Factory Bell!”
[Suggested by a conversation with an operative out of employ.]
Title:Oh, Ring The Factory Bell
Author:J. B. L.
Date:May 17 1862
These four eight-line stanzas, each with the rhyme scheme ABABCDCD, are composed in strict ballad metre – alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter. Whether or not this was, as suggested, inspired by a conversation with an out-of-work mill operative, the poem inhabits the voice of a worker describing their state of poverty and comparing it to his pre-Famine situation. The stanzas respectively discuss industrial, domestic, marital, and paternal worries and the sixth line of each stanza ends with an ‘-ell’ sound to rhyme with the final titular line which acts as a refrain.
One of the interesting things about this poem is that it articulates a commonly reported attitude amongst Lancastrian workers in that the Cotton Famine encouraged them to appreciate their former status as relatively well-off industrial employees. In any case there was very little social or industrial unrest during the Famine and this positive attitude contributed to the political arguments which led to the first enfranchisement of some male workers through the 1867 Second Reform Act. – SR.