‘ONLY A NORTHERN SONG’
The North East of England in the 17-19th Century yielded many poets and songsmiths. This month in the calendar is dedicated to the forgotten and the famous.
Poetry is preserved in the rich folk music tradition of the North East. Here are a few favourites that you might remember. (see February)
The Blackleg Miners, Dance to your Daddy, Elsie Marley, The Keel Row,The Pitmen are not bonny lads, Walker Pit, The Trimdon Grange Explosion. Durham Gaol or the beautiful ‘Water of Tyne’
I cannot get to my love, if I would dee, ........
The water of Tyne runs between him and me;.
And here I must stand with the tear in my e'e,
Both sighing and sickly my sweetheart to see.
O where is the boatman ? my bonny
O where is the boatman? bring him to me,-
To ferry me over the Tyne to my honey,
And I will remember the boatman and thee.
O bring me a boatman, I'll give any money,
And you for your trouble rewarded shall be,
To ferry me over the Tyne to my honey,
Or scull him across that rough river to me.
From John Bell's "Rhymes of Northern Bards" 1812
MARK AKENSIDE 1721-1770 Poet
Born November the 9th in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Attended the Royal Grammar School .
‘The First Poet of the Modern Age’ George Charlton ‘Northern Review’
‘Akenside was one of those poets who have felt very early the motions of genius, and one of those students early stored their memories with sentiments and images.’
‘The reader wanders through the gay diffusion, amazed, and sometimes delighted, but after many turnings in the flowery labyrinth comes out as he went in. ‘
Samuel Johnson in ‘Preface to Akenside’ from Lives of the Poets.
‘Would I again were with you! - O ye dales
of Tyne, and ye most ancient woodlands: where,
Oft as the giant flood obliquely strides,
And his banks open, and his lawns extend.’
‘O ye Northumbrian shades, which overlook
The rocky pavement and the mossy falls
Of solitary Wansbeck’s limpid stream.....’
Lines from ‘The Pleasures of the Imagination’
JOSEPH SKIPSEY 1832-1903
Born March 17th in Percy, Northumberland. Buried in Gateshead Cemetery.
‘Get up!’ the caller calls, ‘Get up!’
And in the dead of night,
To win the bairns their bite and sup,
I rise a weary wight.
My flannel dudden donn’d , thrice o’er
My birds are kiss’d, and then
I with a whistle shut the door,
I may not ope again.
‘’Get Up’ seems to me equal to anything in the language for direct and quiet pathetic force.’ Dante Gabriel Rossetti .
TOMMY SANDERSON 1808-1892
Poet,Town Crier and Umbrella mender.
An eccentric Sunderland character who lived in a ‘metal hut’ on wheels on the site of the Winter Gardens. He was evicted from the site by the council. His poems appear in a local newspaper of the time ‘The Alderman’ This one from September the 8th 1877.
BREAKING THE ICE (a fragment)
St.Stephen’s door stands open wide,
For thee my son to enter,
Arise then, put thy courage on,
And boldly make the venture.
Make no delay upon that day
When we shall want a member,
Unfold thy banner! Let it fly,
Ignite the smouldering ember.
WILLIAM MORLEY EGGLESTONE 1838- 1921
Writer and historian.
Recorded the events surrounding the so called ‘Battle of Stanhope’
And related it to ‘The Bonny Moor Hen’ Ballad that was sung for many years at Stanhope Fair.
David Heatherington at the Weardale Museum informs me that a more detailed article can be found in ‘The Bonny Moor Hen: The journal of the Weardale Field Study Society No.4).
For a detailed Bibliography of Weardale Issues No7 and 8 should be consulted.
THE BALLAD OF THE BONNY MOORHEN (extract) Anonymous Local Poet
‘You brave lads of Weardale, I pray lend an ear,
The account of a battle you quickly shall hear,
That was fought by the miners, so well you may ken,
By claiming a right to their bonny moorhen.’
THE ROOKHOPE RYDE
To the east of the Weardale `capital' of Stanhope, the River Wear is joined from the north by the Rookhope Burn, which means `valley of the rooks'.On December 8th, 1569, this valley was the setting for a border fray in which a large group of mosstroopers (cattle raiders), fromTynedale, made a raid upon the valley of Weardale. The event is remembered in the`Rookhope Ryde', a 24 verse Weardale ballad dating from 1579. Here is an extract.
"Rookhope is a pleasant place, If the false thieves would let it be.
But away they steal our goods apace, And ever an ill death may they dee.
Then in at Rookhope Heed they came, They ran the forest but a miles;
They gathered together in four hours ,Six hundred sheep within a while.
But all that was in Rookhope Heed, And all that was in Neukton Cleugh,
Where Weardale men overtook the thieves, And gave them fighting eneugh.
About that time the fray began, I trow it lasted but an hour,
Till many a man lay weaponless, And was sore wounded in that stour.
And before that hour was done Four of the thieves were slain,
Besides all those that wounded were, Eleven prisoners were tae'n"
for a fuller version of the Ballad and further
Weardale Ballads visit the website below)
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE
Poet, Novelist , Critic and Dramatist.
Born April 5th 1837 Died April10th 1909 Aged 73.
‘Through fell and moorland,
And salt-sea foreland,
Our noisy norland
Resounds and rings;
Waste waves thereunder
Are blown in sunder,
And winds make thunder
With cloudwide wings’
(Extract from ‘Four Songs of Four Seasons 1. Winter in Northumberland.
Swinburne published a novel in 1877 ‘A Year’s Letters’ later to be re-titled ‘Love’s Cross Currents’ under the pseudonym Mrs. Horace Manners.
Swinburne’s ‘Ballads of the English Border’ reconstituted border ballads from the various antiquarian collectors and from that wrote his own ballad pastiches.
“ As far as literary history is concerned ,Rightly or wrongly the (Border )ballads are seen as Scottish.’ George Charlton, Northern Review Volume 1 Spring 1995.
Born in Newcastle 1698-1746
Little is known of his life. W.Cail printed an edition of the poem ‘The Collier’s Wedding in 1829. Chicken was Parish Clerk at St.John’s and a Teacher. His residence is cited as The White Cross, Newgate Street.
‘I sing not of great Caesar’s might,
How brave he led his men to fight.
I choose to sing, in strains much lower,
Of collier lads, unsung before.’
A Collier sees a young woman dancing and falls in love.
He takes her home and asks for her hand in marriage.
‘Come, Bessy , speak; what do ye think?
The old wife cocked her chin and spoke:
‘Why, surely, Tom, you do but joke:
If ye are sincere as ye are warm,
And mean to do my bairn nae harm,
Ye knaw our Jenny’s on’y young,
And easly may be o’ercome;
So court her first - hear what she’ll say;
We’ll have a drink and fix the day.’
Birthplace unknown Shillbottle, Ovingham and Long Edlingham have claims.
Buried at Hartburn on 19th April 1736.
Some relics of his workmanship may be seen at Belsay Castle, Hartburn, Ponteland and other churches in Northumberland.
‘Possessing a fertile imagination, brilliant wit, and a happy command of the language’
Little Moody, Razor-setter
Good Master Moody,
My beard being cloudy,
My cheeks, chin, and lips
Like moon i’ the ‘clipse,
For want of a wipe.
I’ve sent you a razor,
If you be at leisure
To grind her, and set her,
And make her cut better,
You’ll e’en light my pipe.........
Born 10th February 1835 Died 30 years old on September 9th 1864
He will always be remembered for ‘Blaydon Races’
Aw went to Blaydon Races, twas on the ninth of June
Eighteen hundred an’sixty two, on a summer’s efternoon;
Aw tyuk the ‘bus frae Balmbra’s, an’ she wis heavy laden,
Away we went alang Collinwood street, that’s on the road to Blaydon.
Oh me lads, ye shud only seen us gannin
We passed the foaks upon the road just as they wor stannin’;
Thor wes lots o’ lads an’ lasses there, all wi’ smiling faces,
Gawn alang the Scotswood Road to see the Blaydon Races.
PRIMROSE ( PHILL HODGSON)
The words to ‘Jessamond Mill’ appeared in 1772 in the Ladies’ Own Memorandum Book published by S.Hodgson of Newcastle under the author’s name ‘Primrose’ In ‘Northern Bards’ the author is cited as Phill Hodgson.
To sing of the nymph and her cot,
Each bard will oft flourish his quill,
I’m glad it has fallen to my lot
To celebrate Jessamond Mill.
When spring hither winds her career,
Our trees and our hedges to fill,
Vast oceans of verdure appeare
To charm you at Jessamond Mill.
Sure Venus some plot has desig’d,
Or why is my heart never still,
Whenever it pops in my mind.
To wander near Jessamon Mill?
My object, ye swains, you will guess,
If ever in love you had skill;
And, faith, I will frankly confess,
‘Tis Jenny at Jessamond Mill.
‘the poet who sung on the banks of the Tyne’
was born in Dublin in 1729.
Poet and Playwright. At seventeen he wrote a play ‘Love in a Mist’ which was performed in Dublin and later in Newcastle. Worked at the Newcastle Chronicle writing light verse and notices. In 1766 he published his poems by subscription. It was dedicated to David Garrick. Cunningham is reputed to have walked from Newcastle to London bearing a copy of the poems to Mr.Garrick only to find himself ‘treated with indifference and neglect’.
Cunningham died in Union Street, Newcastle and was buried in St.John’s Churchyard. A memorial window was placed in the church by Jos. Cowen the proprietor of the Chronicle in 1865 and the gravestone was restored by subscription in 1887.
Extract from an Elegy on a Pile of Ruins
‘No - tho’ the palace bar her golden gate,
or monarchs plant ten thousand guards around,
unerring and unseen the shaft of fate
Strikes the devote victim to the ground.
What, then, avails Ambition’s wide stretched wing,
The Schoolman’s page, or pride of Beauty’s bloom?
The crape-clad hermit and the rich-robed king,
Levelled, lie mixed promiscuous in the tomb.
Born in 1758 in Simonburn. He was of an ‘unsteady, erratic temperament, and had a very melancholy ending, dying insane at Kibblesworth on 28th July 1826.’ Allan’s Tyneside Songs.
Buried in Lamesley churchyard. Poems published in 1815.
Donocht Head (extract)
Keen blaws the wind o’er Donocht Head,
The snaw drives snelly through the dale,
The Gaber-lunzie tirls my sneck,
And shivering tells his waefu’ tale -
Cauld is the night, O let me in,
And dinna let your minstrel fa’
And dinna let his winding sheet
Be naething but a wreath o’ snaw
Full ninety winter hae I seen
And piped where gor-cocks whirring flew;
And mony a day ye’ve danced, I ween
To lilts which from my drone I blew.
‘Donoct head is not mine; I would give ten pounds if it were’ Robert Burns 1794
According to Brockie, Gibson was a nephew of Thomas Spence and ‘a very ingenious and promising young man’
Gibson died in Liverpool at the age of 22 on January the 20th 1810.
The Tyne (extract)
Roll on thy way, thrice happy Tyne!
Commerce and riches still are thine;
Thy sons in every art shall shine,
And make thee more majestic flow.
The busy crowd that throngs thy sides,
And on thy dusky bosom glides,
With riches swell thy flowing tides,
And bless the soil where dost thou flow.
Art curb’d by War in former days,
Has now burst forth its one bright blaze;
And long shall his refulgent rays
Shine bright, and darkness leave behind.
The Muses too, with Freedom crown’d,
Shall on thy happy shores be found,
And fill the air with joyous sound,
Of -War and darkness ‘ overthrow.
Born 1773 Bishop Auckland. Settled in Newcastle in 1790. Died age 43. 1816
When Robert Burns died in 1796 an elegy on his death appeared in the Newcastle Chronicle written by John Howard. Howard was a member of the ‘ Flying Congress’ whose meetings took place in whichever pub was deemed to hold the best beer. Thompson attacked the elegy as a ‘heap of vile plagiarisms’ and further attacked the writer’s
‘Think’st thou instead of the Parnassian stream
Strong beer can warm thee with a poet’s fire,
Howard was incensed by this and replied to the critic, and Thompson returned fire poetically and that was the end of that. They lie within a few feet of each other in St.John’s Churchyard.
‘Bout Lunnen aw’d heard sec wonderful spokes,
That the streets wre a’ cover’d wi’ guineas;
The houses se fine, sec grandees the folks,
Te them hus i’ th’ North were but ninnies,
But aw fand ma-sel Blonk’d when to Lunnun I gat,
The folks they a’ luck’d wishy-washy;
For gould ye may howk till ye’re blind as a bat,
For their streets are like wors - brave and blashy.
Born Broomhaugh 1768. Worked in the family grocery business in Newcastle.died in Broomhaugh in August 1848. His ‘Songs’ appear in the 1806 editions of the Northern Songster and songs of his were sang at the Theatre Royal. ‘The poet was remarkably quiet and inoffensive and full of the milk of human kindness’
The Bonny Geatsiders
A song in praise of the Gateshead volunteers
Come, marrows we’ve happened to meet now,
Sae our thropples together we’ll neet noo;
Aw’ve myed a new sang,
And to sing ye’t aw lang,
For it’s aboot the Bonny Geatsiders.
Sum think Billy Pitt’s nobbit hummin’,
When he tells aboot Bonnepart cummin’
But cum when he may,
He’ll lang rue the day
He first meets wi’ the Bonny Geatsiders.
‘The Otway of the local muse’
Born Gateshead 1782 Died 1843.
Famous for writing Four well known songs.
He fell into the river at Sandgate and drowned.
Bob Cranky’s ‘Size Sunday (extract)
‘Thow naws, i’ my hoggars and drawers,
Aw’m nyen o’ your scarters and clawers:
Fra the trap door bit laddy
T’ the spletter his daddy,
Nyen handles the pick like Bob Cranky.
So Geordy, od smash my pit sarik,
Thou’s best haud thee whist about warik,
Or aw’ll sobble thee body,
And myek thee nose bloody,
If thou sets up thy gob to Bob Cranky.
Nan laugh’d-t’ church we gat without ‘im;
The greet crowd, becrike, how aw hew’d ‘em!
Smasht a keel bully roar’d
‘Clear the road! Whilk’s my Lord?’
Owse se high as the noble Bob Cranky.
Was a clerk with Burdon and Rayne Brewers.
His songs were written about 1805
NEWCASTLE FAIR: OCTOBER 1811
The Pitman A-drinking of Jacky*
Ha’ye been at Newcastle Fair?
And did you see ouse o’ great Sandy?
Lord bliss us! What wark there was there,
And the folks were drinking of brandy.
Brandy a shilling a glass.
Aw star’d , an’ thought it was shameful,
Never mind, says aw, canny lass,
Give us yell, and aw’ll drink ma wame full.
Died June 20th 1823 aged 55 years. Buried in St.Nicholas’ Churchyard.
The Pitman’s Revenge against Bonaparte.
(Originally attributed to John Shield)
Ay, Bonapart’s sel aw’d tyek,
An’ thraw him i’ the burning heap,
An’ wi’ greet speed aw’d roast him deed;
His marrows, then, aw waddent heed -
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMASCounting songs have been popular in England for centuries and have always been a favourite at Christmas. But did you know that everyone's favourite counting carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, did in fact have many variations, with different gifts listed in the song. Believe it or not the version popular in Newcastle during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries went on to become the standard version we know today.
Born at Benwell and died on December 21st 1850 aged 75. His obituary read.
‘He had worked sixty years as a printer, was the oldest member of that profession in the town and was much respected by a numerous circle of friends’
THE COLLIER’S PAY WEEK
The baff week is o’er- no repining-
Pay Saturday’s swift on the wing;
At length the blythe morning comes shining,
When kelter makes colliers sing.
‘Tis Spring, and the weather is cheary,
The birds whistle sweet on the spray;
Now coal working lads, trim and airy,
To Newcastle town hie away.
William Stephenson Senior
Poet and Song Writer Born in Gateshead June 28th 1763
Died August 12th 1836.
An apprenticed watchmaker but an accident disabled him and he later became a schoolmaster.
His poem The Retrospect is a ‘curious and interesting picture’ of Gateshead in the 18th Century.
Gateshead is nought like it was,
When first a boy I knew it;
I had such sport and merry days,
When I went scampering through it.
Tom Tough and wife, both he and she,
Bought up old pewter cuttings;
She went and shav’d upon the quay,
And he made soldiers’ buttons.
Poet, political activist and songwriter. Born possibly in Gateshead.
Marshall of Newcastle published a small collection of his poems in 1808.
A manuscript of three or four hundred pages is held by Newcastle Reference Library.
Winlaton Hopping (extract)
The night came on with danceand song,
Each public house did jingle, O;
All ranks did swear to banish care,
The married and the single. O;
They tript away till morning light,
Then slept sound without rocking,O;
Next day got drunk in merry plight,
And jaw’d about the Hopping, O.
Born April 10th 1788 At Preston near North Shields
Referred to in poems by a fellow poet William Watson.
Died March 3rd 1851. Buried at Westgate Cemetery, Arthur’s Hill.
‘M stands for Mitford - he kept the North Pole,
Just over the Leazes - a dull looking hole;
Now our favourite poet lives at head of the Side -
Here’s success to his muse - long may she preside’
THE NORTH POLE extract
A social squad, I like it much,
When Gill comes down to air his crutch,
And Jack gets up to show you a touch-
You never now get at the Pole, sir,
Here Winter never spoils our cheer,
Though he comes more than once a year;
Then come my lads, whose hearts are prime,
Dispose yourselves at regular time,
And see an Old Boy, who can chant a rhyme.
THE PITMAN’S COURTSHIP extract
Like an image thou’s stand owr the counter,
Wi’ thy fine muslin, cambricker goon:
An’ te let the fokes see thou’s a lyedy,
On a cuddy thou’s ride to the toon.
Poet/Songwriter about whom nothing much is known except that he wrote this in imitation, reply and after Thomson’s ‘Canny Newcassel’
‘Bout Newcassel they’ve written sae mony fine sangs,
And compar’d their bit place unti Lunnun;
What a shem that ‘tiv Sheels not a poet belangs,
For to tell them they lee wi’ their funnin.
They may boast o’ their shippin’ without any doubt,
For there’s nyen can deny that they’ve plenty;
But for every yen they are gobbin about,
Aw’m sure we can show them, ey twenty.
ROBERT ROXEY and THOMAS DOUBLEDAY
Roxey died 1846 July 30th Aged 79. buried in St.Paul’s Churchyard which lay at the top of Westgate Hill.
Doubleday died 1870 December 18th aged 81.
Wrote songs together which were published as broadsides.
‘Their Coquetdale angling songs are as truly a pride to Newcastle as the steeple of St.Nicholas’ or Thomas Bewick’s birds.’ - Watson ‘Gossip about Songs’.
The mist’s on the mountain, the dew’s on the spray,
And the Lassie has kilted her coats to the knee;
The Shepherd he’s whistling o’er Barraburn brae,
And the sunbeams are glintin far over the sea.
Then we’ll off to coquet, with hook, hair and heckle,
With our neat taper Gads, and our well belted Creels,
And far from the bustle and din o’ Newcastle,
Begin the campaign at the streams o’ Linn-shiels
Born in Gateshead September 8th 1797 Died 11th July 1844
First book ‘Gathalbert and Hisanna’ 1822 Published by Mitchell of the Tyne Mercury.
On St.Nicholas’ Church (extract)
Lo, here shall stand the boast of lyric page,
The growing wonder of each coming age,
This goodly fabric, which, sublimely high,
Doth raise its spies as if to reach the sky;
Its lanthorn and eliptic arches bold
Seem light as air, yet mighty strength unfold.
Bright structure! Where no beauteous form is lacked!
So great, so chaste, so vast, yet so compact!
Such comely symmetry, such matchless grace,
Was ne’er before beheld by mortal face.
The Collier’s Keek at the Nation (extract)
We fand, ere we’d lang been on jaunt,
That the world wasn’t gannin see cliver -
It had gettin a Howdon-Pan cant,
As aw gat once at wor box-dinner.
Monny tyels, tee, we heard, stiff and gleg -
Some laid a’things stright as a die -
Some crook’d as a dog’s hinder leg,
Or, like wor fitter’s nose, all awry.
A native of Newcastle. Born 1800
BURDON’S ADDRESS TO HIS CAVALRY*
Soldiers whom Newcastle’s bred
View your Cornel at your head,
Who’s been called out of his bed,
To fight with sword in hand.
Now’s the time, ye sons of Mars,
You’ve to conquer British tars,
Who’ve broke out in civil wars
At Shields and Sunderland.
But, my lads be not alarmed,
You’ve to fight with men unarmed,
Who in multitudes have swarmed.
We will make them flee.
Come, then, my noble sons of Tyne,
And let your valour nobly shine;
There at last has come a time
To show your bravery.
Then they cried out, every man,
Cornel, we’ll dee a’ we can;
So away to Shields they ran,
Their lives in jeopardy.
But they had no call to fight,
The Marines had be’t them quite;
Yet the Cornel’s made a Knight
For the Victory!
*A parody referring to the strike by sailors at Shields in 1815 and the knighting in 1816 of Thomas Burdon for his services.
ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING
Browning was born on 6 March, 1806, at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, and privately educated. In 1826 her An Essay on Mind and Other Poems was published anonymously. Her translation of Prometheus Bound, by Aeschylus, appeared in 1833. Five years later, in The Seraphim and Other Poems, she expressed Christian sentiments in the form of classical Greek tragedy. She was an invalid for nearly a decade after 1838 as a result of a childhood spinal injury and lung ailment. She continued writing, however, and in 1844 produced a volume of poems including "the Cry of the Children" and "Lady Geraldine's Courtship". Shortly thereafter the poet Robert Browning began to write to Elizabeth to praise her poetry. Their romance, which was immortalised in 1930 in the play The Barretts of Wimpole Street, by Rudolf Besier, was bitterly opposed by her father. In 1846, however, the couple eloped and settled in Florence, Italy, where Elizabeth regained her health and bore a son. Her Sonnets from the Portuguese, dedicated to her husband and written in secret before her marriage, was published in 1850. Critics generally consider the Sonnets, one of the most widely known collections of love lyrics in English, to be her best work. She expressed her intense sympathy with the struggle for the unification of Italy in the collections of poems Casa Guidi Windows and Poems Before Congress. Her longest and most ambitious work is the didactic, romantic poem in blank verse Aurora Leigh. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in Florence on 29 June, 1861. (contributed by KMG from website)
Miscellaneous Items 1
‘THE NATION’S FAVOURITE POEMS’
Poems in the book ‘The Nation’s favourite poems’ that relate to the North are fairly scarce. Elizabeth Barret Browning is the only indigenous North Easterner included here being born at Coxhoe Hall in Durham. She is in at 25 with ‘How do I love Thee?’ W.H.Auden at 19 with Song 9 or that poem from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’liked Northumberland and wrote about it but was a born in York. Lewis Carroll has huge Sunderland connections and he is in their at 28 with ‘Jabberwocky’. Lord Byron is represented and he lived at Seaham Hall for a short time, in at 79 with ‘She Walks in Beauty’. Larkin is another Yorkshireman (well before they changed things) and Wordsworth is well represented of course but he was in Cumbria. Wonder if it will change in a hundred years ?
Songwriter. Author of one on the North East’s most famous songs namely made famous in modern times by Alex Glasgow and the TV series ‘When the Boat Comes In’.
Dance To Thy Daddy
Come here, my little Jackey,
Now I’ve smoked my backey,
Let’s have a bit crackey
Till the boat comes in
Dance to thy daddy, sing to thy mammy,
Dance to thy daddy, to thy mammy sing;
Thou shalt have a fishy on a little dishy.
Thou shalt have a fishy* when th boat comes in.
Here’s thy mother hummin’
Like a canny woman;
Yonder comes thy father
Look he cannot stand.
CHORUS (Thou shalt have a haddock)
Our Tommy’s always fuddlin’,
He’s so fond of ale,
But he’s kind to me,
I hope he’ll never fail.
CHORUS (Thou shalt have a codling)
I like a drop mysel’
When I can get it sly,
And thou, my bonny bairn
Will lik’t well as I
CHORUS (Thou shalt have a mack’rel)
May we get a drop
Oft as we stand in need;
And weel may the keel row
That brings the bairns their bread.
CHORUS (Thou shalt have a salmon).
Writer and Singer
Born Newcastle about 1804
THE SKIPPER IN THE MIST
A Fog on the Tyne plays the deuce ‘mang keels,
As wor skipper once fund as he sailed doon te Sheels;
The fog come se thick, wig in hand, he did roar,
‘Aw mun lay by ny swape - Geordy, lay by your oar.
‘Now, hinnies, me marrows! Come tell’s what to dee,
Aw’s frightened wor keel will seun drive out to sea!’
So the men an’ their skipper each sat on their buttock,
An a council they held, wi’their legs down the huddock.
Says Geordy, ‘We canna be very far down,
Wi’ the wash o’ my oar. Aw hev just touched the grund;
Cheer up, my awd skipper, put on your awd wig,
We’re between the King’s Meedows an’ Necassel Brig’
The skipper , enraged, then declared he kenn’d better,
For at the same time he had smelt the salt wetter;
‘And there’s Marsden Rock, just within a styen thraw,
Aw can see’t throo the mist, aw’ll swear by my reet paw.
‘The anchor let’s drop till the weather it clears,#
For fear we be nabb’d by the French privateers!’
The anchor was dropt; when the weather cleared up,
They fund th’ keel moored at th’ awd Javil Group.
Thw skipper was vex’d and he cursed and he swore,
That his nose had ne’er led him se wrang before;
But what most of all did surprise these four people
Was Marsden Rock chang’d into Gateshed Church steeple.
Born February the 5th 1800 in Newcastle.
Died 29th October 1848 Aged 48. Buried in Westgate Hill Cemetery.
The Newcassel Props (Extract)
Oh, waes me, wor canny toon, it canna stand it lang -
The props are tumblin one by one, the beeldin seun mun gan;
For deeth o’ late hez no been blate, but sent some jovial souls a joggin’
Aw niver grieved for Jacky Tate, nor even little Airchy Loggan.
But when ma lugs was ‘lectrified wi’ Judy Downey’s deeth,
Alang wi’ Heuffy Scott aw cried, till byeth was oot o’ breeth;
For greet an sma’, fishwives an’ a’, luik’d up te her wi’ veneration -
If Judy’s in the courts above, then for Auld Nick ther’ll be ne ‘cation.
Born in Newcastle in the early eighteen hundreds. Died circa 1866
Buried in All Saints Cemetery.
BLIND WILLIE v BILLY SCOTT (Extract)
Blind Willie, one morning, was singin’
At the sign o’ the ‘Bunch o’ Grapes’
Te amuse the folks he was beginning
Wi’ aud Sir Matthew’s mistakes.
Sumbody shoots, ‘Here’s mister Scott cummin!’
Willie instantly wished for te see;
‘Aw’ll tell ye the truth, withoot funnin’
He once half-a-croon gav to me.
THOMAS WILSON Poet
Born at Low Fell, November 14th 1773.
THE MOVEMENT (extract)
Where canny Newcassel will gan te at last
Is far ayont maw understandin’;
But if it gans on as its duin for years past,
It’ll suin about Hexham be landin’.
For toon within toon, and street efter street,
Grainger pops up - without ever heedin’
How they’re to be fill’d unless some new leet
Shows him folks will like rabbits be breedin’.
DAVID ROSS LEITCH
Born North Shields.
1838 ‘Poetic Fragments’ published.
THE CLIFFS OF OLD TYNEMOUTH
(Published as a broadsheet circa 1843)
Oh! The Cliffs of old Tynemouth they’re wild and they’re sweet,
And dear are the waters that roll at their feet;
And the old ruin’d Abbey, it ne’er shall depart;
‘Tis the star of my fancy, the home of my heart.
Oh! ‘twas there that my childhod fled cheerful and gay,
There I loitered the morning of boyhood away;
And now as i wander the old beach alone,
The waves seem to whisper the names that are gone.
Twas there with my Alice I walked hand-in-hand,
While the wild waves in moonlight leapt o’er the bright sand;
And sweet wee the echoes of the dark cliffs above,
But, oh! Sweeter her voice as she murmured her love.
Other lands may be fairer, but nought can be seen
Like the shores where our first love and boyhood have been;
Oh! Give me the cliffs and the wild roaring sea -
The Cliffs of old Tynemouth for ever for me.
ROBERT EMERY Printer-Poet
Born September 26th in Edinburgh but moved to Newcastle when very young.
Died on March 28th 1871 Aged 77. Buried at All Saints Cemetery.
Emery fill’d each breest wi’ pride
Mirth-provoking songs he wrote,
E neuff to please a’ far an’ wide.
Rich an’ racy tiv a note
Ye’d hear his sangs a’ roond Tyneside.
(Acrostic by Joe Wilson)
THE PITMAN’S RAMBLE (Extract)
Wor pit was laid in, an’ but little ti de,
Says aw, ‘Neighbour Dickey, let’s off te Newcassel,
Thor grand alterations aw’s langin’ te see,
They say thor se fine that they’ll gar won een dazzel.
We reached the Black Hoose, an we call’d for sum beer,
When whe shud pop in but the landlord, se handy;
He wish’d us se kinfdly a happy new eer,
An’ he rosin’d wor gobs wiv a glass o’ French brandy.
WILLIAM STEPHENSON JUNIOR
Born in Gateshead September 2nd 1797
Died May 26th 1838.
Editor and printer of ‘The Gateshead Intelligencer’ 1830-33
A sort of half newspaper - half magazine.
Publisher of his Father’s poems and songs 1832.
THE BEGGARS’ WEDDING extract
Black Jack, with his fiddle, they fixed in the middle,
Who had not been washed since the second of June;
Old Sandy, the piper, told Nell he would stripe her,
If she wouldn’t dance while his pipe was in tune:
They played them such touches, with woodlegs and crutches -
Old rag-pokes and matches, old songs flew about;
Poor Jack being a stranger, his scratch thought in danger,
He tenderley begg’d they would give up the rout.
Born near Stowell Street on November 29th 1841.
The most successful of Tyneside songwriters.
Died in Railway Street aged thirty three years of age.
AW WISH YOR MUTHER WAD CUM (Extract)
Then Geordy held the bairn,
But sair agyen his will;
The poor bit thing wes gud,
But Geordy had ne skill:
He haddint its muther’s ways,
He sat both stiff an’ num;
Before five minutes wes past
He wish’d its muther was cum.............
‘Men seldom give a thowt
Te what thor wives indure:
Aw thowt she’d nowt te de
But clean the hoose, aw’s sure;
Or myek me dinner an’ tea -
(It’s star tin to chow its thumb:
The poor thing wants its tit -
Aw wish yor muther wad cum...........
The blind author of many popular Tyneside songs.
N e mair will we hear him play a bonny teun;
U nequalled wes he when the dancin’ wes seun,
N yen cud chant like him, his sangs myed lots o’ fun,
N ebody pleased them like canny Bobby Nunn.
THE PITMAN AND THE BLACKIN’ (extract)
‘O Betty come and see my byuts,
The upper leather’s crackin’;
It’s a’ wi’ cleanin’ them wi’ syut,
And niver usin’ blackin’.
JOHN PEACOCK poet
Born South Shields. Died in 1867
MARSDEN ROCK (extract)
The sultry sun aloft has roll’d,
And ting’d the hills and dales with gold;
The sea her silv’ry robes unfold
Her swelling bounds along.
Th’ enraptured sky is calm and clear,
Come now to Marsden Rock repair:
Inhale the fresh and barmy air,
Which floats in cooling breezes there,
The bright blue waves among.
JOHN PHILIP ROBSON
‘Bard of the Tyne and minstrel of the Wear.’
Born September 24th 1808 Died August 26th 1870. Works included ;
Blossoms of Poesy 1831, Poetic Gatherings 1839, The Monomaniac 1847,
Poetic Pencillings 1852, Hermione the Beloved 1857 and Evangeline or the spirit of Progress 1869.
Friends included Eliza Cook, Charles Swain and Lord Ravensworth.#
Buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery.
R emember, ye bards, the famous J.P.,
O v Tyneside,- a poet ov highest degree;
B ard ov the Tyne an’ Monstrel o’ the Wear,
S preedin the harmony we like to hear;
O v a’ the great writers reet foremost he’ll shine,
N oo an’ for iver ‘mang Bards o’ the Tyne.
‘PARTING ADDRESS’# (extract)
When this hand that the harp of old Tyne oft awakened
With lays rude and simple lies low in the earth;
When the angel of peace to his bosom has beckon’d
And called him from friendship, from music, and mirth,
Let the sunlight of kindness in silence beam o’er him,
And gild the dark spots on his mem’ry that lie;
Let the radiance of love to a rainbow restore him,
And hope spread her beautiful wings to the sky.
Other North Eastern Poets and Songwriters of note from the 18th and 19th Centuries
WILLIAM HENDERSON DAWSON
RICHARD OLIVER HESLOP
JOHN ATLANTIC STEPHENSON
There are many more to be found.
The past is out there!
for all the songs from the North East and beyond.
WILFRED WILSON GIBSON 1878 - 1962
Born Hexham. A well known poet before the War. A friend of Edward Thomas,Robert Frost and Rupert Brooke.Gibson was already married with children at the outbreak of war and he survived.He is one of the few war poets to write from an older man’s perspective.
BETWEEN THE LINES ( Extract)
When consciousness came back, he found he lay Between the opposing fires, but could not tell On which hand were his friends; and either way For him to turn was chancy -- bullet and shell Whistling and shrieking over him, as the glare Of searchlights scoured the darkness to blind day.