I know that my hands may be hard and rough,
That my cheek may be wan and pale; -
But my heart is made of good sound stuff,
That never will falter or fail:
And though in the world with my mates I stand
To share in the battle of life,
I take thee, my girl, by the dainty hand,
As my own, my sweet bonny wife.
Though never a jewelled wreath may span
The curls on thy beautiful brow;
I’ll pledge thee my heart and tr[o]th as a man,
And love thee for ever as now.
And though the bright hopes of Love’s sunny prime
Too often the future belie.
The steep hills of life together we’ll climb,
And conquer our fate – thou and I.
My coat may be poor and my words be but few,
Yet there’s never an ermined king
Can offer his queen a present more true
Than mine of a heart and a ring –
That tiny gold ring with which we may bind,
Our fortunes in one common bond,
And rear us a home where happiness shrined
May dwell with affection most fond.
What more would we seek? What more would we have?
What more could fair Fortune bestow?
If of all her gifts we ventured to crave
The richest that mortals might know?
For aye, dearest girl, shall our wedded love
Flash, star-like a top of our life;
And ne’er shall my soul a base traitor prove
To its Heart, its Home and its Wife.

Title:A Workman's Wooing

Author:John Plummer

Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:13th December 1862

Keywords:love, morality, work


This poem by the prolific poet John Plummer would have been poignant for many people during the Cotton Famine as it addresses the difficulty of pursuing romantic relationships in the face of grinding poverty. There is a familiar element of valorisation of the simple poor and their moral purity, and the poem suggests that love and loyalty are riches enough. – SR