William Barnes

T. L. Burton and K. K. Ruthven (eds), The Complete Poems of William Barnes, Vol. 1: Poems in the Broad Form of the Dorset Dialect

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Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus30 Uncle an' Ānt

  • 1How happy uncle us'd to be
  • 2O' zummer time, when ānt an' he
  • 3O' Zunday evemens, yarm in yarm,
  • 4Did wa'ke about ther tiny farm,
  • Critical Apparatus5While birds did zing, an' gnots did zwarm,
  • Critical Apparatus6Droo grass a'most above ther knees,
  • 7An' roun' by hedges an' by trees
  • 8       Wi' leafy boughs a-swâyèn.
  • 9His hat wer brode, his cuoat wer brown,
  • Critical Apparatus10Wi' two long flaps a-hangèn down,
  • 11An' vrom his knee went down a blue
  • Critical Apparatus12Knit stockèn to his buckled shoe.
  • 13An' ānt did pull her gown-tâil droo
  • Critical Apparatus14Her pocket-hole to kip en neat
  • 15As she mid wa'ke, ar tiake a seat
  • Critical Apparatus16       By leafy boughs a-swâyèn.
  • 17An' vust tha'd goo to zee ther lots
  • Critical Apparatus18O' pot-yarbs in the ghiarden plots;
  • 19An' he, i'maybe, gwâin droo hatch,
  • 20Wou'd zee ānt's vowls upon a patch
  • 21O' zeeds, an' vow if he cou'd catch
  • 22Em wi' his gun, tha shoudden vlee
  • Critical Apparatus23Noo muore into ther roostèn tree
  • 24       Wi' leafy boughs a-swâyèn.

Notes Settings

Notes

Critical Apparatus
Title ĀNT] ANT DCC
Editor’s Note
Printings. DCC, 4 June 1840, 2; 1844 97–9; 1847a 112–14.
Prosodic features. Forty-eight lines in iambic tetrameter, grouped in six eight-line stanzas. For the rhyme scheme, see 1n.
The couple in this poem are Barnes's uncle Charles Roberts and aunt Ann, whose brother was Barnes's father; Barnes lived with them after his mother died when he was 15. According to 39 3–4, 'a better couple nivver stood | In shoes'. Their enduring love for one another is celebrated here and alluded to in 'Married Peäir's Love Walk' (1859a 150–2; WBP i. 331–2); these are unusual poems in a genre preoccupied mainly with young love. The couple dance together at Fanny's birthday party (77 41–5), and shed tears on Jeän's wedding day (32 20–1). Before Roberts went bankrupt in 1813, for over thirty years he had worked land at Pentridge Farm (Chedzoy 2010: 22), which is bounded on one side by the River Stour. Memorialized in 'Pentridge by the River' (1859a 174–5; WBP i. 347–8) as the ruined site of Barnes's happy childhood, 'not a trace' of it could be found by the time he published 'Pentridge' (1868 113; WBP ii. 767). The fantasy of being wealthy enough to repossess his 'forefaethers' plot o' land' informs 'The Pleäce Our Own Ageän' (1859a 169–70; WBP i. 344–5).
8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48. leafy boughs a-swâyèn. On Barnes's attraction to the rhythmical properties of this motile image, see 6 30n. A rhythmically identical variant in 'The Wold Wall' is 'leafy boughs a-swingèn' (1859a 80; WBP i. 286).
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5 zing,] ⁓‸ 1847a
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6 Droo] Drough DCC (and so throughout)
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10 flaps a-hangèn] lappets hangen DCC
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10 down,] ⁓; 1847a
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12 shoe.] ⁓; 1847a
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14 pocket-hole] ⁓, 1847a
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kip] keep 1847a
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neat] ⁓, 1847a
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16 By] Wher DCC
a-swâyèn] wer swâyèn DCC
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18 plots;] ⁓, DCC
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23 tree] ⁓, 1847a
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26 var to] out to 1847a
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27 blooth so thick an'] apple-blooth, so 1847a
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27 white] ⁓, 1847a
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28 al] all 1847a (and so in 31)
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blight.] ⁓; 1847a
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30 be,] ⁓‸ 1847a
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32 āl] āll 1847a (and so in 37)
Editor’s Note
33. stump'd. Uncle 'stump'd off' in order to conceal his feelings at seeing Jeän taken to church on her wedding day (32 22). In 'England in Italy' (1845), subsequently retitled 'The Englishman in Italy', Robert Browning likewise reclaimed this vulgar word when he made his priests 'stomp' while carrying 'in pomp' a 'flaxen-wigged Image' (Browning 1970: 428).
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34 miare,] ⁓; 1847a
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35 zight,] ⁓‸ DCC
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36 yers] ears 1847a
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37 whicker'd] so in DCC 1847a; whicker d 1844
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39 tree] ⁓, DCC 1847a
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41 āl] āll, 1847a
Editor’s Note
41–2. grass … grow. In 95 32 a 'lan'lard' sits down 'to see how things da grow'. Crop watching was a communal activity: in 'The Thorns in the Geäte' people climb 'Ivy Hill, | To zee how strong the corn d[o] look' (1859a 155; WBP i. 334).
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42 meäd] miead DCC
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44 huome;] ⁓,— 1847a
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shoe] ⁓, 1847a
Editor’s Note
44–5. shoe … wet … dew. On this combination of rhyme and image, see 12 20–1n.
Critical Apparatus
46 rest] ⁓, 1847a
Critical Apparatus
47 vlee-en] vleèn 1847a
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