(Original) The Beddin’s Goan

EH! Robbut! th’ lan’lord’s bin tu-day,
Whol thaw or deawn at th’class;
He sed ‘twor herd tu mek foak pay,
Bud he mut hev his brass,
An’ aw mut awthur pay ur flit,
An’ which wor t’ wost o’ t’ twon?
Aw’d nowt to pay him, nod a bit,
Su neaw then th’ beddin's goan!
Eawr factory ludge wi’icet is thick,
An’ th’ moors ur whoite wi’ sno’;
Eh! winter’s cumin’ yarra quick,
An; help [cums] nobbud slo’;
Th’ eost woind tu-neet blo’s fearful cowd,
Id gus thru evvry boan;
Heaw mun wu live neaw th’ bedstock’s sowd,
An’ even th’ beddin’s goan?
Si th’ childer cruddled back o’th cheer!
Aw’ve lapt ‘um i’ mi skurt,
Id’s th’oanly won aw hev to weur,
Bud id welly broak mi hert,
When aw feld ‘at evvry bonny lim’
Wor cowder nor a stoan,
An’ aw set [un] ’ croid ‘til mi ee’n wor dim,
O’er th’ beddin hevin’ goan.
I’ a’ mii want, aw’m preaud tu say,
Aw’v never trubbled teawn;
Tho’ aw’v goan i’ nowt fur mony u day
Bud this owd gingum geawn;
Aw’d loike a fresh un, if id leets,
Ur ae’l bi content wi’ noan;
Bud aw shudder ut thowt o’ t’ winter neets
Neaw t’ bit o’ t’ beddins goan.
Aw’m stricken wi mi owd cumplaint,
An’ mony a weary heawr,
Feightin’ fur breoth ‘till sick an’ faint,
I’ this cowd heause aw ceawr;
Aw’m seure th’ koind herts soarly wrung
To heur ma gasp an’ groan,
Bud aw’s nod bi heur tu tew tha lon,
Neaw t’ bit o’ t’ beddin’s goan!

Title:The Beddin's Goan

Author:W. A. Abram

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:November 29, 1862

Keywords:dialect, domesticity, gender, politics, poverty


In a broadly ballad rhythm of four and three alternating iambs, this poem is arranged in five of the octet eight-line stanzas which were common for Lancashire dialect poetry of this time. The orthography (spelling system) here is wilfully obscure, with almost every common word spelt in a non-standard way in order to attempt to represent a regional accent. The speaker is a wife, presumably addressing her husband (‘Robbut’), but this address is really a device to enable an account of the family’s woes as they must sell off all their possessions in order to pay off their debts. Each stanza finishes with a variation on a statement to the effect that the family’s bedding has ‘goan’, which acts as a refrain.

The use of the sale of the bedding to represent the last straw of poverty here is very significant. The onset of winter was especially feared in stricken towns, and the loss of the bedding signifies a desperate vulnerability, especially in conjunction with the hunger and illness already being suffered. The speaker is suffering from a respiratory complaint, perhaps bronchitis, and wonders if she will even live long enough to benefit from relief or charity only briefly alluded to (‘th’ koind hert’).

- SR.