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Best Famous William Barnes Poems

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by William Barnes | |

The Girt Woak Tree

 The girt woak tree that's in the dell !
There's noo tree I do love so well;
Vor times an' times when I wer young
I there've a-climb'd, an' there've a-zwung,
An' pick'd the eacorns green, a-shed
In wrestlen storms from his broad head,
An' down below's the cloty brook
Where I did vish with line an' hook,
An' beat, in playsome dips and zwims,
The foamy stream, wi' white-skinn'd lim's.
An' there my mother nimbly shot Her knitten-needles, as she zot At evenen down below the wide Woak's head, wi' father at her zide.
An' I've a-played wi' many a bwoy, That's now a man an' gone awoy; Zoo I do like noo tree so well 'S the girt woak tree that's in the dell.
An' there, in leater years, I roved Wi' thik poor maid I fondly lov'd,- The maid too feair to die so soon,- When evenen twilight, or the moon, Cast light enough 'ithin the pleace To show the smiles upon her feace, Wi' eyes so clear's the glassy pool, An' lips an' cheaks so soft as wool.
There han' in han', wi' bosoms warm Wi' love that burned but thought noo harm, Below the wide-bough's tree we past The happy hours that went too vast; An' though she'll never be my wife, She's still my leaden star o' life.
She's gone: an' she've a-left to me Her token in the girt woak tree; Zoo I do love noo tree so well 'S the girt woak tree that's in the dell.
An' oh ! mid never ax nor hook Be brought to spweil his steately look; Nor ever roun' his ribby zides Mid cattle rub ther heairy hides; Nor pigs rout up his turf, but keep His lwonesome sheade vor harmless sheep; An' let en grow, an' let en spread, An' let en live when I be dead.
But oh! if men should come an' vell The girt woak tree that's in the dell, An' build his planks 'ithin the zide O' zome girt ship to plough the tide, Then, life or death ! I'd goo to sea, A-sailen wi' the girt woak tree An' I upon his planks would stand, An' die a-fighten vor the land,- The land so dear,-the land so free,- The land that bore the girt woak tree; Vor I do love noo tree so well 'S the girt woak tree that's in the dell.


by William Barnes | |

Woak Hill

 When sycamore leaves wer a-spreaden
Green-ruddy in hedges,
Bezide the red doust o' the ridges,
A-dried at Woak Hill;

I packed up my goods, all a-sheenen
Wi' long years o' handlen,
On dousty red wheels ov a waggon,
To ride at Woak Hill.
The brown thatchen ruf o' the dwellen I then wer a-leaven, Had sheltered the sleek head o' Meary, My bride at Woak Hill.
But now vor zome years, her light voot-vall 'S a-lost vrom the vlooren.
To soon vor my jay an' my childern She died at Woak Hill.
But still I do think that, in soul, She do hover about us; To ho vor her motherless childern, Her pride at Woak Hill.
Zoo—lest she should tell me hereafter I stole off 'ithout her, An' left her, uncalled at house-ridden, To bide at Woak Hill— I called her so fondly, wi' lippens All soundless to others, An' took her wi' air-reachen hand To my zide at Woak Hill.
On the road I did look round, a-talken To light at my shoulder, An' then led her in at the doorway, Miles wide vrom Woak Hill.
An' that's why vo'k thought, vor a season, My mind wer a-wandren Wi' sorrow, when I wer so sorely A-tried at Woak Hill.
But no; that my Meary mid never Behold herzelf slighted, I wanted to think that I guided My guide vrom Woak Hill.


by William Barnes | |

Zummer An Winter

 When I led by zummer streams
The pride o' Lea, as naighbours thought her,
While the zun, wi' evenen beams,
Did cast our sheades athirt the water;
Winds a-blowen,
Streams a-flowen,
Skies a-glowen,
Tokens ov my jay zoo fleeten,
Heightened it, that happy meeten.
Then, when maid an' man took pleaces, Gay in winter's Chris'mas dances, Showen in their merry feaces Kindly smiles an' glisnen glances; Stars a-winken, Day a-shrinken, Sheades a-zinken, Brought anew the happy meeten, That did meake the night too fleeten.


by William Barnes | |

The Wife a-Lost

 Since I noo mwore do zee your feace,
Up steairs or down below,
I’ll zit me in the lwonesome pleace,
Where flat-bough’d beech do grow;
Below the beeches’ bough, my love,
Where you did never come,
An’ I don’t look to meet ye now,
As I do look at hwome.
Since you noo mwore be at my zide, In walks in zummer het, I’ll goo alwone where mist do ride, Drough trees a-drippen wet; Below the rain-wet bough, my love, Where you did never come, An’ I don’t grieve to miss ye now, As I do grieve at hwome.
Since now bezide my dinner-bwoard Your vaice do never sound, I’ll eat the bit I can avword, A-vield upon the ground; Below the darksome bough, my love, Where you did never dine, An’ I don’t grieve to miss ye now, As I at hwome do pine.
Since I do miss your vaice an’ feace In prayer at eventide, I’ll pray wi’ woone sad vaice vor greace To goo where you do bide; Above the tree an’ bough, my love, Where you be gone avore, An’ be a-waiten vor me now, To come vor evermwore.


by William Barnes | |

Tokens

 Green mwold on zummer bars do show
That they've a-dripped in winter wet;
The hoof-worn ring o' groun' below
The tree do tell o' storms or het;
The trees in rank along a ledge
Do show where woonce did bloom a hedge;
An' where the vurrow-marks do stripe
The down the wheat woonce rustled ripe.
Each mark ov things a-gone vrom view— To eyezight's woone, to soulzight two.
The grass agean the mwoldren door 'S a token sad o' vo'k a-gone, An' where the house, bwoth wall an' vloor, 'S a-lost, the well mid linger on.
What tokens, then, could Meary gi'e That she a-lived, an' lived vor me, But things a-done vor thought an' view? Good things that nwone agean can do, An' every work her love ha' wrought, To eyezight's woone, but two to thought.


by William Barnes | |

My Orchad in Linden Lea

 'Ithin the woodlands, flow'ry gleaded,
By the woak tree's mossy moot,
The sheenen grass-bleades, timber-sheaded,
Now do quiver under voot;
An' birds do whissle over head,
An' water's bubblen in its bed,
An' there vor me the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.
When leaves that leately wer a-springen Now do feade 'ithin the copse, An' painted birds do hush their zingen Up upon the timber's tops; An' brown-leav'd fruit's a-turnen red, In cloudless zunsheen, over head, Wi' fruit vor me, the apple tree Do lean down low in Linden Lea.
Let other vo'k meake money vaster In the air o' dark-room'd towns, I don't dread a peevish measter; Though noo man do heed my frowns, I be free to goo abrode, Or teake agean my hwomeward road To where, vor me, the apple tree Do lean down low in Linden Lea.


by William Barnes | |

Easter Zunday

 Last Easter Jim put on his blue
Frock cwoat, the vu'st time-vier new;
Wi' yollow buttons all o' brass,
That glitter'd in the zun lik' glass;
An' pok'd 'ithin the button-hole
A tutty he'd a-begg'd or stole.
A span-new wes-co't, too, he wore, Wi' yellow stripes all down avore; An' tied his breeches' lags below The knee, wi' ribbon in a bow; An' drow'd his kitty-boots azide, An' put his laggens on, an' tied His shoes wi' strings two vingers wide, Because 'twer Easter Zunday.
An' after mornen church wer out He come back hwome, an' stroll'd about All down the vields, an' drough the leane, Wi' sister Kit an' cousin Jeane, A-turnen proudly to their view His yollow breast an' back o' blue.
The lambs did play, the grounds wer green, The trees did bud, the zun did sheen; The lark did zing below the sky, An' roads wer all a-blown so dry, As if the zummer wer begun; An' he had sich a bit o' fun! He meade the maidens squeal an' run, Because 'twer Easter Zunday.


by William Barnes | |

The Young that Died in Beauty

 If souls should only sheen so bright
In heaven as in e’thly light,
An’ nothen better wer the cease,
How comely still, in sheape an’ feace,
Would many reach thik happy pleace, -
The hopevul souls that in their prime
Ha’ seem’d a-took avore their time, -
The young that died in beauty.
But when woone’s lim’s ha’ lost their strangth A-tweilen drough a lifetime’s langth, An’ over cheaks a-growen wold The slowly-weasten years ha’ roll’d The deep’nen wrinkle’s hollow vwold; When life is ripe, then death do call Vor less ov thought, than when do vall On young vo’ks in their beauty.
But pinen souls, wi’ heads a-hung In heavy sorrow vor the young, The sister ov the brother dead, The father wi’ a child a-vled, The husband when his bride ha’ laid Her head at rest, noo mwore to turn, Have all a-vound the time to murn Vor youth that died in beauty.
An’ yeet the church, where prayer do rise Vrom thoughtvul souls, wi’ downcast eyes, An’ village greens, a-beat half beare By dancers that do meet, an’ wear Such merry looks at feast an’ feair, Do gather under leatest skies, Their bloomen cheaks an’ sparklen eyes, Though young ha’ died in beauty.
But still the dead shall mwore than keep The beauty ov their early sleep; Where comely looks shall never wear Uncomely, under tweil an' ceare.
The feair at death be always feair, Still feair to livers’ thought an’ love, An’ feairer still to God above, Than when they died in beauty.


by William Barnes | |

The Surprise

 As there I left the road in May,
And took my way along a ground,
I found a glade with girls at play,
By leafy boughs close-hemmed around,
And there, with stores of harmless joys,
They plied their tongues, in merry noise:
Though little did they seem to fear
So queer a stranger might be near;
Teeh-hee! Look here! Hah! ha! Look there!
And oh! so playsome, oh! so fair.
And one would dance as one would spring, Or bob or bow with leering smiles, And one would swing, or sit and sing, Or sew a stitch or two at whiles, And one skipped on with downcast face, All heedless, to my very place, And there, in fright, with one foot out, Made one dead step and turned about.
Heeh, hee, oh! oh! ooh! oo!—Look there! And oh! so playsome, oh! so fair.
Away they scampered all, full speed, By boughs that swung along their track, As rabbits out of wood at feed, At sight of men all scamper back.
And one pulled on behind her heel, A thread of cotton, off her reel, And oh! to follow that white clue, I felt I fain could scamper too.
Teeh, hee, run here.
Eeh! ee! Look there! And oh! so playsome, oh! so fair.


by William Barnes | |

The Broken Heart

 News o' grief had overteaken
Dark-eyed Fanny, now vorseaken;
There she zot, wi' breast a-heaven,
While vrom zide to zide, wi' grieven,
Vell her head, wi' tears a-creepen
Down her cheaks, in bitter weepen.
There wer still the ribbon-bow She tied avore her hour ov woe, An' there wer still the hans that tied it Hangen white, Or wringen tight, In ceare that drowned all ceare bezide it.
When a man, wi' heartless slighten, Mid become a maiden's blighten, He mid cearelessly vorseake her, But must answer to her Meaker; He mid slight, wi' selfish blindness, All her deeds o' loven-kindness, God wull waigh 'em wi' the slighten That mid be her love's requiten; He do look on each deceiver, He do know What weight o' woe Do break the heart ov ev'ry griever.