TUNE. – “The Meeting of the Waters.”

Though lowly my cottage and frugal its fare,
Affection and truth and devotion are there;
And when evening arrives, and the day’s toil is o’er,
Then my husband comes home and I bar up the door.
Then my husband comes home, &c.
He goes to the bed where his little ones lie,
And I know the sweet light that then beams in his eye,
And he turns to his support, whate’er in may be,
With a kindness of heart that is heaven to me!
With a kindness of heart, &c.
I love him too well to repine at my fate –
Frugality still keeps the dun from my gate –
And I hope that his children may rise to repay
The toils and the sorrows that wear him away.
The toils and the sorrows, &c.
Oh, zealous and holy and pure be their youth!
May they hear from my lips only kindness and truth!
And, when Mercy’s mild messenger bears me from life,
Leave my memory dear as a mother and wife.
Leave my memory dear, &c.
- British Workwoman.

Title:The Happy Wife's Evening Song


Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:31st October 1863

Keywords:gender, work


This anonymous poem from the pages of the British Workman magazine celebrates the lives of the honest poor through its representation of traditionally gendered divisions of labour. The speaker is the wife who states that it is ‘frugality’ which keeps ‘the dun from the gate’. The archaic term ‘dun’ refers to a debt collector, and the fact that the wife must be continually thrifty suggests that the family live beneath the poverty line. – SR