Odd poem: D.H. Lawrence dialect verse, ‘The Collier’s Wife’

Somebody’s knockin’ at th’ door
Mother, come down an’ see!
–I’s think it’s nobbut a beggar;
Say I’m busy.

It’s not a beggar, mother; hark
How ‘ard ‘e knocks!
–Eh, tha’rt a mard-arsed kid,
‘E’ll gie thee socks!

Shout an’ ax what ‘e wants,
I canna come down..

–‘E says, is it Arthur Holliday’s?
–Say Yes, tha clown.

‘E says: Tell your mother as ‘er mester’s
Got hurt i’ th’ pit–
What? Oh my Sirs, ‘e never says that.
That’s not it!

Come out o’ th’ way an’ let me see!
Eh, there’s no peace!
An’ stop thy scraightin’, childt,
Do shut thy face!

‘Your mester’s ‘ad a accident
An’ they ta’ein’ ‘im ‘i th’ ambulance
Ter Nottingham.’–Eh dear o’ me,
If ‘e’s not a man for mischance!

Wheer’s ‘e hurt this time, lad?

–I dunna know,
They on’y towd me it wor bad–
It would be so!

Out o’ my way, childt! dear o’ me, wheer
‘Ave I put ‘is clean stockin’s an’ shirt?
Goodness knows if they’ll be able
To take off ‘is pit-dirt!

An’ what a moan ‘e’ll make! there niver
Was such a man for fuss
If anything ailed ‘im; at any rate
I shan’t ‘ave ‘im to nuss.

I do ‘ope as it’s not very bad!
Eh, what a shame it seems
As some would ha’e hardly a smite o’ trouble
An’ others ‘as reams!

It’s a shame as ‘e should be knocked about
Like this, I’m sure it is!
‘E’s ‘ad twenty accidents, if ‘e’s ‘ad one;
Owt bad, an’ it’s his!

There’s one thing, we s’ll ‘ave a peaceful ‘ouse f’r a bit,
Thank heaven for a peaceful house!
An’ there’s compensation, sin’ it’s accident,
An’ club-money–I won’t growse.

An’ a fork an’ a spoon ‘e’ll want–an’ what else?
I s’ll never catch that train!
What a traipse it is, if a man gets hurt!
I sh’d think ‘e’ll get right again.

D.H. Larence was the son a a barely literate coal-miner at Brinsley Colliery in Nottinghamshire. This poem is from the environment of his childhood, in the dialect he grew up in. To make the three-way conversation a little easier to navigate, I’ve italicised the wife’s words.

As for the dialect, it’s not difficult, more of an accent than anything. “Scraighting” isn’t a word I know, but it’s obvious from the context. Other words: “nuss” is “nurse”. “Owt bad” doesn’t mean “knocked out badly”, it means “aught bad”, “anything bad”.


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