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Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect   By: (1801-1886)

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William Barnes’s Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect serves as a fascinating ode to the idyllic countryside and the simplicity of rural life. Presented in a rich and authentic Dorset dialect, this anthology beautifully captures the essence of a bygone era, preserving the language and traditions of the region.

Barnes's poetry showcases an intimate understanding and deep connection to the landscapes and people of Dorset, creating a vivid tapestry of rural life. With meticulous attention to detail, he paints immersive portraits of nature’s beauty, from the gentle flow of rivers to the vibrant colors of wildflowers. Each poem carries an unmistakable nostalgia, transporting readers to a time when life was slower, and nature was a constant companion.

One of the book's remarkable achievements is Barnes's skillful incorporation of the Dorset dialect. While initially challenging for readers unfamiliar with the vernacular, this choice ultimately enhances the authenticity and charm of the work. Through the melody of the dialect, readers gain a greater appreciation for the local culture and traditions, immersing themselves in the vivid dialogues and expressions of the characters who populate the poet's verses.

The collection not only celebrates the beauty of the natural world but also delves into the lives of Dorset's inhabitants. Barnes introduces us to a cast of characters, each with their own unique stories and struggles. From simple shepherds to laboring farmers, he showcases their resilience and captures the essence of their rustic existence. The emotions conveyed through these voices are raw and unpretentious, eloquently representing the joys and sorrows of rural life.

Despite the rustic setting, Barnes's poems tackle universal themes, appealing to readers from all walks of life. The simplicity and directness of his language allow for a genuine emotional connection, evoking profound sentiments such as love, loss, and longing. The poet effortlessly bridges the gap between past and present, illuminating the timeless nature of human emotions.

While Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect might appear challenging at first glance, perseverance is richly rewarded with an enchanting journey into the heart of Dorset's countryside. Barnes's masterful storytelling combined with his deep-rooted affection for the region creates an immersive experience that transports readers to a world of rustic beauty and heartfelt emotions. A true gem for poetry enthusiasts and lovers of rural life alike, this anthology offers a profound insight into the rich cultural heritage of Dorset, showcasing the enduring legacy of its dialect and its way of life.

First Page:

[Transcriber's Note: The Pronunciation Guide and Word List are at the end of the book.]







Two of the three Collections of these Dorset Poems have been, for some time, out of print, and the whole of the three sets are now brought out in one volume.

I have little more to say for them, than that the writing of them as glimpses of life and landscape in Dorset, which often open to my memory and mindsight, has given me very much pleasure; and my happiness would be enhanced if I could believe that you would feel my sketches to be so truthful and pleasing as to give you even a small share of pleasure, such as that of the memories from which I have written them.

This edition has a list of such Dorset words as are found in the Poems, with some hints on Dorset word shapes, and I hope that they will be found a fully good key to the meanings of the verse.

Yours kindly,


June 1879.




The Spring 3 The Woodlands 4 Leädy Day, an' Riddèn House ... Continue reading book >>

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