Let us hope for better days
By William Billington

In true men’s lives it is not true
That Labour plays a losing game;
Though Fame but chronicles the few,
She leaves you room to write your name;
Then fearlessly the feat perform,
Nor heed what hateful Envy says,
But stem the stream, and brave the storm,
And live in hopes of better days.
“Tis hard – when two fond hearts are linked
In love that lasts for evermore,
When quick, as if the welkin winked
And darkness shed from shore to shore,
A grave is thrown across the path
Of life, and withers all its bays,
And blights the fairest bloom it hath –
“Tis hard to hope for better days.
“Tis hard to bear the bitter smart
Of care and pinching poverty
Till brain is frenzied, and the heart
Is frozen into apathy;
But, fickle Fortune, frown thy fill!
The freaks thy eldest Daughter plays
Shall never rob me of the will
To bear till dawn of better days.
Oppression’s gloomy clouds may lower,
And Slander’s blighting winds may blow,
But patience in the peril-hour
Shall triumph o’er the double foe;
Though Danger and Disaster come
And hedge me in a thousand ways,
Still, smiling in the face of Doom,
I’ll wait and watch for better days.
Be humble, but hold up your heads,
Though want and scant may be your lot;
For they that sleep on downy beds
May in a pauper’s coffin rot;
And many, who with Indigence
Are plodding now, shall proudly raise
Themselves to wealth and eminence –
So let us hope for better days.
The morning dawns upon the night,
And Spring the Winter still succeeds,
And Wrong is vanquished by the Right,
And Truth dispels the darkest creeds;
And for the worthy working man
Shall still ring out my rugged lays,
To break the dull despairing ban,
And bid him hope for better days.

Title:Let us Hope for Better Days

Author:William Billington

Publication:The Blackburn Standard

Published in:Blackburn

Date:Sunday, July 31, 1861

Keywords:poverty, work


This standard English poem by the famous dialect poet William Billington encourages optimism in the face of crisis in general terms but appears to include some specific references to the kinds of trials people faced during the Cotton Famine, even though this piece was published very early in its progression. The first two lines celebrate working people and references to ‘pinching poverty’ and hearts which are ‘frozen into apathy’ suggests that this poem works on both general and crisis-specific levels. Certainly this poem would have been received by readers beginning to feel the effects of the cotton blockade in towns like Blackburn as relevant to their situation. – SR