Aw’ve Turned Mi Bit O’ Garden O’er Samuel Laycock
Title:Aw've Turned Mi Bit o' Garden O'er
Publication:Manchester University Press
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.