Sewin’ Class Song Samuel Laycock
Title:Sewin' Class Song
Publication:Manchester University Press
Perhaps not coincidentally, E. Moss’s poem on the same subject, ‘Eawr Factory Skoo’, uses the same metre as this – iambic heptameter. If you recite this to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ you will find it fits very well despite that song being trochaic, but remember that Lancastrian articles are often elided in speech into the previous or following words so, for instance, ‘for th’ cleawd’ has only two syllables. The collective female voice of this first person plural form of address is very unusual in Cotton Famine poetry, but only serves to highlight the relative lack of authentic female poetic voices in this body of work, especially of working-class origin.
Along with several other poems on the subject (see E. Moss’s ‘Eawr Factory Skoo’ and Joseph Ramsbottom’s ‘Gooin’ t’ Schoo’) the tone is rather celebratory in contrast to many Cotton Famine poems and the general attitude to the educational programmes begun during the crisis appears to be positive if the poetry is any guide. Of course, such poems, written and published during the crisis, may have functioned as encouragements to continue organising and attending such programmes and effectively have been propaganda exercises. The moral tone of the penultimate stanza would be in keeping with this interpretation. 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.