Aw’ve Turned Mi Bit O’ Garden O’er Samuel Laycock

Aw’ve turned mi bit o’ garden o’er,
An’ set mi seed an’ o;
Soa neaw aw’ve done, aw’ll rest a bit,
An’ sit an’ watch it grow.
It’s noice to have a little spot,
Wheer one can ceawer ’em down,
A quiet comfortable place,
Eawtside o’ th’ busy teawn,
Wheer one can sit an’ smoke the’r poipe,
An’ have a friendly chat,
Or read th’ newspapper o’er a bit,
Or talk abeawt Shurat;
Or listen to some owd mon’s tale,
Some vet’ran come fro’ th’ wars;
Aw loike to yer ’em spin the’r yarn,
An’ show the’r wounds an’ scars.
One neet aw thowt aw’d tak’ a walk
As far as th’ Hunter’s Teawer,
To beg a daisy root or two:
Tom’s gan me mony afleawer.
They’re bloomin’ i’ mi garden neaw,
Aw’ve sich a bonny show;
Aw’ve daisies, pinks, carnations, too,
An’ pollyants an’ o.
Yo’ couldn’t think heaw preawd aw feel,
O’ every plant an’ fleawer;
Aw couldn’t ha’ cared for childer moor,
Aw’ve nursed’em mony a heawer.
But tho’ they neaw look fresh an’ fair,
They’ll droop the’r yeads an’ dee;
They hanno lung to tarry here,
They’re just loike yo’ an’ me.
Dark-lookin’ cleawds are gatherin’ reawnd,
Aw think it’s beawn to rain;
Ther’s nowt could pleos me better neaw,
Aw should be rare and fain!
Mi bit o’ seed wants deggin’ o’er,
To help to mak’ it spreawt;
It’s summat loike a choild’s first teeth,
’At wanten helpin’ eawt.
But aw’ll be off, afore aw’m wet,
It’s getten reet agate;
An’ while it comes aw think aw’ll get
A bit o’ summat t’ ate;
For, oh, it is a hungry job,
This workin’ eawt o’ th’ door;
Th’ committee should alleaw for this,
An’ give one rayther moor.
Aw should so loike a good blow eawt,
A feed off beefsteak pie;
But aw can ne’er get nowt loike that
Wi’ th’ bit aw draw, not I!
Aw’m glad enough o’ porritch neaw,
Or tothrey cold potates;
Iv aw can get enoo o’ these,
Aw’st do till th’ factory gates.
It’s welly gan o’er rainin’, so
Aw’ll have another look,
An’ see heaw th’ gardens’s gettin on;
An’ then aw’ll get a book,
An’ read an heawer or two for th’ woife,
An’ sing a bit for Ted;
Then poo mi clogs off, fasten th’ doors,
An’ walk upsteers to bed.

Title:Aw've Turned Mi Bit o' Garden O'er

Author:Samuel Laycock

Publication:Manchester University Press

Published in:Manchester


Keywords:charity, dialect, domesticity, poverty, unemployment


Although this poem is in the common ballad metre its four sixteen-line stanzas are a different grouping to most of the poems of its type which usually opt for octets. Perhaps the reason for these longer stanzas is its very different tone and subject, and the fact that the poem contains quite long descriptions of the daily routine of the unemployed who find themselves filling their days in very different ways from their former working lives during the Cotton Famine.

Aside from the practical aspects of the encouragement of unemployed workers to supplement their diets with homegrown vegetables, this poem celebrates an increased appreciation of nature (or at least horticulture) through enforced leisure time. Although there are descritpions of the effects of poverty, the overall register is of stoic resignation, with an added sense that something is being gained from the experience. In this regard, the poem relates to others in the database which describe the educational programmes begun during the Cotton Famine. 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.

- SR.