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William Barnes Biography and Poems

William Barnes Biography and Poems. This is biographical information on William Barnes, one of the best poets of all time. This biography page also provides a link to poems written by Barnes, as well as, a video biography...if available.

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Barnes, William

Biography | Poems (12)

An English writer, poet, minister, and philologist.. English writer poet minister and philologist


William Barnes (1801 - 1886) was an English writer, poet, minister, and philologist.

He was born at Rushay, Dorset, the son of a farmer. After being a solicitor's clerk and a schoolmaster, he entered the Church, in which he served various cures. He first contributed to a newspaper, Poems in Dorset Dialect, separately published in 1844. Hwomely Rhymes followed in 1858, and a collected edition of his poems appeared in 1879. His philological works include Philological Grammar (1854), Se Gefylsta, an Anglo-Saxon Delectus (1849). Tiw, or a View of Roots (1862), and a Glossary of Dorset Dialect (1863).

He was a friend of Thomas Hardy and Gerard Manley Hopkins. He is known for his Dorset dialect poems.

Barnes had a strong interest in language; he was fluent in Greek, Latin and several modern European languages. He called for the purification of English by removal of Greek, Latin and foreign influences so that it might be better understood by those without a classical education. For example, the word "photograph" (<Gk. light+writing) would become "sun-print" (<Saxon). Other terms include "wortlore" (botany), "welkinfire" (meteor) and "nipperlings" (forceps).

This 'Pure English' resembles the 'blue-eyed English' later adopted by the composer Percy Grainger.

Barnes's poems are characterised by a singular sweetness and tenderness of feeling, deep insight into humble country life and character, and an exquisite feeling for local scenery.

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