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by Thomas Brierley (1828 – 1909)

From 'The Countryfield Pieces' and also in ‘Lancashire Miscellany’, 1960.
Thomas Brierley was born in Middleton, near Oldham, third of five children of a handloom weaver. His only sweetheart died and thereafter he remained always a bachelor. In spite of long hours working at the handloom Brierley became a competent mathematician and was auditor to several Middleton mills. He also ran an evening school to teach children the ‘three Rs’. Thomas Brierley was a shy man but much respected. He knew Samuel Bamford personally.
In 1894 Brierley published a flimsy volume ‘The Countryfield Pieces’ and I have a dilapidated copy – but it’s legible! It contains a narrative of ‘Th’ Silk Weaver’s Fust Bearin’ Whoam to Manchester’, which is marvellously humorous but written at times in a dialect hard to fathom. According to the introduction to Thomas Brierley in ‘A Lancashire Garland’, he was proud to speak the vernacular, and it shows! Now read this charming poem about ‘Love’.

by Thomas Brierley

Fust time 'at he talked abeawt love
Awst never forget it, aw think,
For tho’ awr as flush as a rose,
Aw trembled as if aw should sink;
Aw kept mi two een upo’ th’ greawnd,
While softly he chanted love’s tune,
But when aw fun th’ use o’ mi tongue,
Aw said it wur rayther too soon.

Next time 'at he started again,
Awr roamin’ for berries i’ th’ dell,
He popped through a gap, an’ he said,
“Art havin’ a jaunt by thisell’.”
Then he singled mi fingers i’ his,
An’ tried to look into mi een,
But aw begged he would not be so bowd,
For awr nobbut just turned seventeen.

Tho’ aw liked him as weel as mi life,
When he axt me again, aw looked shy;
Aw felt 'at aw couldn’t say “ay,”
An’ it very nee made me to cry.
He urged me to wed him at once,
True love, he said, isn’t a crime;
At last aw plucked up an’ said, “husht!
An’ aw’ll gie thee an onsur next time.”

Thur’ blue-bells an’ daisies i’ th’ wood,
Thur’ blossoms on every bush,
Th’ hawthorns wur cream-like an' rich,
An’ sweet were the notes of the thrush –
When he pressed mi two lips to his own,
An’ said, “con ta love me for good,”
Wi’ cheeks like a fine rosy morn,
Aw whispered, aw thowt 'at aw could.

It’s monny a lung year sin’ that day,
An’ neaw we’n some young un’s to keep,
We’n two 'at are goin’ t’ skoo,
An’ one 'at’s i’ th’ kayther asleep;
Eawr life passes on like a dream,
Mi husband an’ me never fret,
We con buss one another, an’ say
“We’n never once after thowt yet.” 


Return to Index of Lancashire Dialect Poems


Image source here.

Audio File


Below is a recitation of the poem. You may need to allow 'ActiveX' control to listen. I hope you enjoy it.



Link to Glossary.



Een - eyes

Fun - found

Rayther - rather

Art - are you

Nobbut - only

Thur - there were

Ta - thou

Kayther - cradle

Buss - kiss