Week 176: The Wife A-Lost, by William Barnes

This can be viewed as a companion piece to Barnes’s ‘Woak Hill’ (see week 31), and in my view takes its place alongside that as one of the most moving poems of marital bereavement in the language. Again, it is important not to be put off by Barnes’s attempts at dialect spelling: if you listen to the poem in your head, hearing perhaps just the ghost of a Dorset accent, I think any problems melt away.

The Wife A-Lost

Since I noo mwore do zee your feäce,
Up steäirs or down below,
I’ll zit me in the lwonesome pleäce,
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-drippèn 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 vaïce do never sound,
I’ll eat the bit I can avvword,
A-yield 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 vaïce an’ feäce
In praÿer at eventide,
I’ll praÿ wi’ woone sad vaïce vor greäce
To goo where you do bide;
Above the tree an’ bough, my love,
Where you be gone avore,
An’ be a-waïtèn vor me now,
To come vor evermwore.

William Barnes

Advertisements

One thought on “Week 176: The Wife A-Lost, by William Barnes

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s