Gooin’ T’ Schoo Joseph Ramsbottom

Heaw slow these weary weeks dhrag on,
Th’ hard toimes ull ne’er be o’er, aw’m sure;
Eawr mill’s bin stondin’ idle yon
For these last eighteen months, or mooar.
We walk abeawt i’ th’ leet o’ th’ day
I’ clooas ut sumdy else has bowt;
Think o’er it when an’ heaw we may,
We’re like to own it’s up to nowt.
To thrust to sumdy else for bread,
An’ by th’ relief keep torin’ on,
Maks honest folk to hang their yead,
An’ crushes th’ heart o’ th’ preawdest mon.
We known it’s not eawr bread we ate,
We known they’re not eawr clooas we wear,
We want agen eawr former state,
Eawr former dhrudgin’ life o’ care.
Toime wur, if amdy dust ha worn,
Sich things as neaw are worn by me,
Ut folks ud sheawt wi jeers an’ scorn,
“Eh! thoose are ’thank yo, sirs’, aw see.”
Bo sheawts and jeers like these are o’er,
Neaw nob’dy’s reawm to mak a stir;
If wortchin’ folk yo meet by th’ score,
Oitch one ull wear a “thank yo, sir.”
It’s fro no faut o eawrs, it’s true,
An’ folks han met eawr wants like men,
Like brothers an’ like sisters too,—
May th’ great God pay em back agen.
Heawe’er aw grumble at mi state,
Aw’ve no hard word to say to them;
Aw thank the poor, aw thank the great,
Ut couldno stond to see us clem.
Their help has bin great help to me,
It’s that alone ut sent me t’ schoo;
I t’s that ut towt me th’ A B C,
For o aw’d turnt o’ forty-two.
’ T wur rayther hard at fust to sit
An’ stare at things aw couldno tell,
Cose when owt puzzl’t me a bit,
O th’ lads ud laugh among thersel’.
A mon grown up, an’ owd as me,
I o stop before a letther fast;
Wur gradely fun for them to see,
Bo aw geet thro’, an’ that’s o’ past.
I’ th’ news aw neaw con read a bit;
I' the’ Bible spell a chapther thro’;
Con write a line ut’s fair an’ fit;
An’ multiply, divide, an’ do.
On lots o’ things aw get new leet,
Mi idle toime’s noan badly spent;
To th’ wife an’ th’ childher neaw oitch neet
Aw read a bit i’ th’ Testiment,
Heaw Jesus Christ once fed the poor,
An’ th’ little childher to him co’d;
Heaw th’ sick an’ blind he oft did cure,
An’ th’ lame to help ’em on their road.
When o’ these weary toimes are past—
When th’ schoos an’ o’ are past away—
These happy neets awhoam ull last,
At th’ eend o’mony a breetther day:—
Bo th’ eend o’ th’ ill it’s hard to see,
An’ very hard to battle thro’;
A gradely plague it’s bin to me—
It’s bin a gradely blessin’ too.

Title:Gooin' t' Schoo

Author:Joseph Ramsbottom

Publication:Manchester University Press

Published in:Manchester


Keywords:charity, dialect, domesticity, gender, poverty, religion


This poem, with the rhyme scheme ABABCDCD, is arranged in eight octet stanzas. Its metre is iambic tetrameter, but typically with Ramsbottom’s verse, the piece does not appear song-like but conversational when recited. Also typical of Ramsbottom is that he takes subjects which other Lancashire dialect writers tend to address with a collective voice and uses first person monologues to interrogate social concerns through an individual character.

This is one of eleven Cotton Famine poems which feature in Brian Hollingworth’s Songs of the People: Lancashire dialect poetry of the industrial revolution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977), the most significant anthology of such works during the twentieth century. It is significant in that its shift of register from despairing to hopeful reflects that many people found at least a common purpose, a solidarity, during the Cotton Famine, and also that the educational programmes which were developed during the crisis had a lasting positive social effect.

- SR.