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Songs of the Ridings   By: (1872-1919)

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This etext was produced by Dave Fawthrop.

Songs of the Ridings

by F. W. Moorman

Contents:

Dedication Preface A Dalesman's Litany Cambodunum Telling the Bees The Two Lamplighters Our Beck Lord George Jenny Storm The New Englishman The Bells of Kirkby Overblow The gardener and the Robin Lile Doad His last Sail One Year Older The Hungry Forties The Flowers of Knaresborough Forest The Miller by the Shore The Bride's Homecoming The Artist Marra to Bonney  Mary Mecca The Local Preacher The Courting Gate Fieldfares A Song of the Yorkshire Dales The Flower of Wensleydale

I DEDICATE THIS VOLUME TO THE YORKSHIRE MEMBERS OF THE WORKERS' EDUCATIONAL ASSOCITION

Preface

About two years ago I published a collection of Yorkshire dialect poems, chosen from many authors and extending over a period of two hundred and fifty years(1). The volume was well received, and there are abundant signs that the interest in dialect literature is steadily growing in all parts of the county and beyond its borders. What is most encouraging is to find that the book has found an entrance into the homes of Yorkshire peasants and artisans where the works of our great national poets are unknown. I now essay the more venturesome task of publishing dialect verses of my own. Most of the poems contained in this little volume have appeared, anonymously, in the Yorkshire press, and I have now decided to reissue them in book form and with my name on the title page.

A generation ago the minor poet was, in the eyes of most Englishmen, an object of ridicule. Dickens and Thackeray had done their worst with him: we knew him or her as Augustus Snodgrass or Blanche Amory an amiable fool or an unamiable minx. The twentieth century has already, in its short course, done much to remove this prejudice, and the minor poet is no longer expected to be apologetic; his circle of readers, though small, is sympathetic, and the outside public is learning to tolerate him and to recognise that it is as natural and wholesome for him to write and publish his verses as it is for the minor painter to depict and exhibit in public his interpretation of the beauty and power which he sees in human life and in nature. All this is clear gain, and the time may not be far distant when England will again become what it was in Elizabethan days a nest of singing birds, where the minor poets will be able to take their share in the chorus of song, leaving the chief parts in the oratorio to the Shakespeares and Spensers of tomorrow.

The twenty five poems of which this volume consists are meant to serve a double purpose. Most of them are character sketches or dramatic studies, and my wish is to bring before the notice of my readers the habits of mind of certain Yorkshire men and women whose acquaintance I have made. For ten years I have gone up hill and down dale in the three Ridings, intent on the study of the sounds, words and idioms of the local folk speech. At first my object was purely philological, but soon I came to realise that men and women were more interesting than words and phrases, and my attention was attracted from dialect speech to dialect speakers. Among Yorkshire farmers, farm labourers, fishermen, miners and mill workers I discovered a vitality and an outlook upon life of which I, a bourgeois professor, had no previous knowledge. Not, only had I never met such men before, but I had not read about them in literature, or seen their portraits painted on canvas. The wish to give a literary interpretation of the world into which I had been privileged to enter grew every day more insistent, and this volume is the fulfilment of that wish.

Of all forms of literature, whether in Verse or prose, the dramatic monologue seemed to me the aptest for the exposition of character and habits of mind. It is the creation or recreation of Robert Browning, the most illuminating interpreter of the workings of the human mind that England has produced since Shakespeare died... Continue reading book >>




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