Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Dialect Poems
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A Collier's Wife drying pit clothes, 1922

Dialect Poems by D.H. Lawrence


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,
'Ell gie thee socks!

Shout an' ax what 'em 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 they scraightin' childt,
Do shut thee 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 'ell make! there niver
Was such a man for a fuss
If anything ailed 'im; at any rate
I shan't 'ave 'im to nuss.

I do 'ope as it's not so very bad!
Eh, what a shame it seems
As some should 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 'house 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 'ell 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 'ell get right again."



Sister, tha knows while we was on th' planks
      Aside o' t' grave, an' the coffin set
On th' yaller clay, wi' th' white flowers top of it
      Waitin'ter be buried out o' th' wet?
An' t' parson makin' haste, an' a' t' black
      Huddlin' up i' t' rain,
Did t' 'appen ter notice a bit of a lass way back
      Hoverin', lookin' poor an' plain?
      —How should I be lookin' round!
            An' me standin' there on th' plank,
      An' our Ted's coffin set on th' ground,
            Waitin' to be sank!
      I'd as much as I could do, to think
            Of 'im bein' gone
      That young, an' a' the fault of drink
            An' carryin's on!—
Let that be; 'appen it worna th' drink, neither,
Nor th' carryin' on as killed 'im.
      —No, 'appen not,
My sirs! But I say 'twas ! For a blither
Lad never stepped, till 'e got in with your lot—
All right, all right, it's my fault! But let
Me tell about that lass. When you'd all gone
Ah stopped behind on th' pad, i' t' pourin' wet
An' watched what 'er 'ad on.
Tha should ha' seed 'er slive up when yer'd gone!
Tha should ha' seed 'er kneel an' look in
At th' sloppy grave! an' 'er little neck shone
That white, an' 'er cried that much, I'd like to begin
Scraightin' mysen as well. 'Er undid'er black
Jacket at th' bosom, an' took out
Over a double 'andful o' violets, a' in a pack
An' white an' blue in a ravel, like a clout.
An' warm, for the smell come waftin' to me. 'Er put 'er face
Right in 'em, an' scraighted a bit again,
Then after a bit 'er dropped 'em down that place,
An' I come away, acause o' th' teemin' rain.
But I thowt ter mysen, as that wor th' only bit
O' warmth as 'e got down theer; th' rest wor stone cold.
From that bit of a wench's bosom; 'e'd be glad of it,
Gladder nor of thy lillies, if tha maun be told.


The Drained Cup

T' snow is witherin' off 'n th' gress—
Lad, should I tell thee summat?
T' snow is witherin' off 'n th' gress
An' mist is suckin' at th' spots o' snow,
An' ower a' the thaw an' mess
There's a moon, full blow.
      Lad, but I'm tellin' thee summat!

Tha's bin snowed up i' this cottage wi' me—
'Ark, tha'rt for hearin' summat!
      Tha's bin snowed up i' this cottage wi' me
While t' clocks 'as 'a run down an' stopped,
An' t' short days goin' unknown ter thee
Unbeknown has dropped.
      Yi, but I'm tellin' thee summat.
How many days dost think has gone?
      Now, lad, I'm axin' thee summat.

How many days dost think has gone?
How many times has t' candle-light shone
On thy face as tha got more white an' wan?
—Seven days, my lad, or none!
      Aren't ter hearin' summat ?

Tha come ter say good-bye ter me,
      Tha wert frit o' summat.
Tha come ter ha' finished an' done wi' me
An' off to a gel as wor younger than me,
An' fresh and more nicer for marryin' wi'—
      Yi, but tha'rt frit o' summat.

Ah wunna kiss thee, tha trembles so!
      Tha'rt daunted, or summat.
Tha arena very flig ter go.
Dost want meter want thee again? Nay, though,
There's hardly owt left o' thee; get up and go!
      Or dear o' me, say summat.

Tha wanted ter leave me that bad, tha knows!
      Doesn't ter know it?
But tha wanted me more ter want thee, so's
Tha could let thy very soul out. A man
Like thee can't rest till his last spunk goes
Out of 'im into a woman as can
      Draw it out of 'im. Did ter know it?

Tha thought tha wanted a little wench,
      Ay, lad, I'll tell thee thy mind.
Tha thought tha wanted a little wench
As 'ud make thee a wife an' look up ter thee.
As 'ud wince when that touched'er close, an' blench
An' lie frightened to death under thee.
      She worn't hard ter find.

Tha thought tha wanted ter be rid o' me.
      'Appen tha did, an' a'.
Tha thought tha wanted ter marry an' see
If ter couldna be master an' th' woman's boss.
Tha'd need a woman different from me,
An' tha knowed it; ay, yet tha comes across
      Ter say good-bye! an' a'.

I tell thee tha won't be satisfied,
      Tha might as well listen, tha knows.
I tell thee tha won't be satisfied
Till a woman has drawn the last last drop
O' thy spunk, an' tha'rt empty 'an mortified.
Empty an empty from bottom to top.
      It's true, tha knows.

Tha'rt one o' th' men as has got to drain
      —An' I've loved thee for it,
Their blood in a woman, to the very lasy vein,
Tha must, though tha tries ter get away.
Tha wants it, and everything else is in vain.
      An' a woman like me loves thee for it.

Maun tha cling to the wa' as that stands ?
      Ay, an' tha maun.
An' tha looks at me, an' tha understan's.
Yi, tha can go. Tha hates me now.
But tha'lt come again. Because when a man's
Not finished, he hasn't, no matter how.
      Go then, sin' tha maun.

Tha come ter say good-bye ter me.
      Now go then, now then go.
It's ta'en thee seven days ter say it ter me.
Now go an' marry that wench an' see
How long it'll be afore tha'lt be
Weary an' sick o' the likes o' she,
      An' hankerin' for me. But go!

A woman's man tha art, ma lad.
      But it's my sort o' woman.
Go then, tha'lt ha'e no peace till ter's had
A go at t'other, for I'm a bad a bad
Sort o' woman for any lad.
   —Ay, it's a rum un!


Poor Bit of a Wench

Will no one say hush! to thee,
poor lass, poor bit of a wench?
Will never a man say: Come, my pigeon,
come an' be still wi' me, my own bit of a wench!

And would you peck out his eyes if he did?


What ails thee?

What ails thee then, woman, what ails thee?
doesn't ter know?
If tha canna say't, come then an' scraight it out on my bosom
Eh? — Men doesna ha'e bosoms? 'appen not, on'y tha knows what I mean.
Come then, tha can scraight it out on my shirt-front
an' tha'lt feel better.

— In the first place, I don't scraight.
And if I did, I certainly couldn't scraight it out.
And if I could. the last place I should choose
would be your shirt-front
or your manly bosom either.
So leave off trying to put the Robbie Burns touch over me
and kindly hand me the cigarettes
if you haven't smoked them all,
which you're much more likely to do
than to shelter anybody from the cau-auld blast.



I, the man with the red scarf,
      Will give thee what I have, this last week's earnings.
Take them and buy thee a silver ring
And wed me, to ease my yearnings.

For the rest when thou art wedded
      I'll wet my brow for thee
With sweat, I'll enter a house for thy sake,
      Thou shalt shut doors on me.


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