Tokens

By William Barnes 1801–1886 William Barnes
Green mwold on zummer bars do show
   That they’ve a-dripp’d in winter wet;
The hoof-worn ring o’ groun’ below
   The tree, do tell o’ storms or het;
The trees in rank along a ledge
Do show where woonce did bloom a hedge;
An’ where the vurrow-marks do stripe
The down, the wheat woonce rustled ripe.
Each mark ov things a-gone vrom view—
To eyezight’s woone, to soulzight two.

The grass ageän the mwoldrèn door
   ’S a tóken sad o’ vo’k a-gone,
An’ where the house, bwoth wall an’ vloor,
   ’S a-lost, the well mid linger on.
What tokens, then, could Meäry gi’e
That she’d a-liv’d, an’ liv’d vor me,
But things a-done vor thought an’ view?
Good things that nwone ageän can do,
An’ every work her love ha’ wrought
To eyezight’s woone, but two to thought.


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

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Poet William Barnes 1801–1886

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Time & Brevity, Nature, Living, Summer

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Nature, Living, Summer

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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