Aw’s bi just fifteen next Micklemas- day,
Aw’m nod varra big of meh age, soos thi say,
Bud aw hooape us aw’ve nod done thrivin,
‘Cause aw’s hev three looms, sometimes aw’m towd,
Aw’ve bin lernin to [ wayve] sin eight year owd,
Un to be a good hand aw’m striving.


Meh mother’s a widow, un varra poor,
Meh feyther’s bin deeod twelve months or moor,
Un aw’m ‘th owdst but one eawt o’ seven.
Aw cud cry when aw think abeawt troubles thers bin,
Heaw meh mother’s bin hamperd un moythered, sin
Meh feyther took jorney to heaven.


When bed-fast un ill he sed to meh – “John,
Tha’ll be a good lad when aw’m [doead] un gone,
Un do wod tha con for thi mother,
God help her poor lass! hoo’ll bi sorely tried;”
Then he covered his hands un cried,
Whoile hot tears fell one after tother.


A month after this un’ th’ bum bailies coom,
Un sowd moost ot things eawt o’ th’ little back room,
Wi some [cheears] , an an owd oak table,
They were sent bi’ th’ landlord, owd [Isaac] Steel.
Un aw thowt id wer herd, for he knew reet weel
Wi should pay him off when wi were able.


When’t [cas'd] clock were sowd, which a scoore o’ years
I’ th’ corner hed stood, aw cud see silent tears
Down the mothers smooth features rowlin;
Un aw sed to mehsel, [ we’ll] hae thad back,
If aw wek o’ meh life til meh sinews crack
Un meh berryin bells is towline.


Thad clock were gin too her wen fost hoo wer wed,
Tho id worned woth much i one sense, hoo sed,
Except cause id coom fro her feyther.
Bud aw’m fain to say, un ids cum back neaw
Gin too us [agoon] ; d’ye wonder heaw?
I’d wor bowt bi o’ kindly nabor.


Such thowtful feeling quite cheered us up,
For ther’s drops o’ sweetness i’th’ bitterest cup;
When ids darkest sun’s olez shinin,
Un the black cleawds may be hingin abeawt
Iv yo’ll pashnutly wait, sun’s sure to brek eawt,
Un give um a silvery linin.


Sooa I loves in hooaps us this rainy day,
Like o weet weather ul goes away;
Ids a long neet us [hos] no mornin
Time may cum when t’rooases ul smell sweet,
Well’t thorns ul be trampled, an crush’d at meh feet,
Un as bless thad day aw wor born in.


Ther’s lot con bi honest wi bellies full,
For thi mistake pudding for principle:
Ther goodness is ruled bi ther porridge,
Bud aw trust aw’s [bi] one o thad honest few,
Hatin dodging, un tricks, us ul struggle throo,
Wi a manly inflinchin corrage.


Sooa aw’l sing for mehsel, “Cheer up young hart,
He’s a wastrel soujer us wornd his [port] ,
Un stand midst ot thunder un rattle;
Ids poverty tries mon’s [mett’s] , un moight,
Un them us con feight wi a good name broight,
Are the heroes of every battle.”

Title:Factory Lad


Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:January 14, 1865

Keywords:domesticity, morality, poverty


This dialect poem valorises the working class in terms of their diligence, their community spirit, and their equanimity. The ‘Factory Lad’ in question suffers grief and hardship through the death of his mother and the sale of his possessions by bailiffs, but he recovers through strength of will, and the help of neighbours, who buy back some of his possessions for him. The poem ends with the familiar trope of representing stoic workers as equivalent to military heroes in status (see ‘Heroes’). – SR