By William Barnes 1801–1886 William Barnes
Where the western zun, unclouded,
   Up above the grey hill-tops,
Did sheen drough ashes, lofty sh’ouded,
   On the turf beside the copse,
      In zummer weather,
      We together,
      Sorrow-slightèn, work-vorgettèn,
      Gambol’d wi’ the zun a-zettèn.

There, by flow’ry bows o’ bramble,
   Under hedge, in ash-tree sheädes,
The dun-heäir’d ho’se did slowly ramble
   On the grasses’ dewy bleädes,
      Zet free o’ lwoads,
      An’ stwony rwoads,
      Vorgetvul o’ the lashes frettèn,
      Grazèn wi’ the zun a-zettèn.

There wer rooks a-beätèn by us
   Drough the aïr, in a vlock,
An’ there the lively blackbird, nigh us,
   On the meäple bough did rock,
      Wi’ ringèn droat,
      Where zunlight smote
      The yollow boughs o’ zunny hedges
      Over western hills’ blue edges.

Waters, drough the meäds a-purlèn,
   Glissen’d in the evenèn’s light,
An’ smoke, above the town a-curlèn,
   Melted slowly out o’ zight;
      An’ there, in glooms
      Ov unzunn’d rooms,
      To zome, wi’ idle sorrows frettèn,
      Zuns did set avore their zettèn.

We were out in geämes and reäces,
   Loud a-laughèn, wild in me’th,
Wi’ windblown heäir, an’ zunbrowned feäces,
   Leäpèn on the high-sky’d e’th,
      Avore the lights
      Wer tin’d o’ nights,
      An’ while the gossamer’s light nettèn
      Sparkled to the zun a-zettèn.

Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

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Poet William Barnes 1801–1886



Subjects Summer, Relationships, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


Multitalented poet and autodidact William Barnes was born in Rushay, Dorset, in southern England. He worked as a clerk and a schoolmaster before earning a bachelor of divinity from Cambridge and becoming an ordained minister in the Church of England. He was a strong supporter of the Dorset dialect. When he died in 1886, his Saturday Review obituary read, “There is no doubt that he is the best pastoral poet we possess, the most . . .

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SUBJECT Summer, Relationships, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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