The Pitman’s Pay (Extract)

By Thomas Wilson (1773-1858)

Aw thought wor NELL, when NELLY DALE,      
The varry thing to myek me happy;            
She curl’d maw hair, she tied maw tail,            
And clapt and stroked maw little CAPPY.                             

But suin as e’er the knot was tied,                         
And we were yok’d for life, together-
When NELL had laugh’d, and MINNY cried-
And aw was fairly i’ the tether-

Then fierce as fire she seiz’d the breeks,           
And roun’ maw heed flew stuils and chairs;
Maw tail hung lowse, like cannel weeks,            
An awd pit ended CAPPY’S cares.                

Just like wor maisters when we’re bun,             
If men and lads be varry scant,
They wheedle us wi’ yel and fun,                        
And coax us into what they want.

But myek yor mark, then snuffs and sneers
Suin stop yor gob and lay yor braggin’;
When yence yor feet are i’ the geers,   
Maw soul! they’ll keep your painches waggin’.

Aw toil maw byens, till through maw clay
They peep to please maw dowly kyevel;             
Aw’s at the coal wall a’ the day,
And neetly i’ the waiter level.  

Aw hammer on till efternuin,              
Wi’ weary byens and empty wyem;                      
Nay, varry oft the pit’s just duin                           
Before aw weel get wannel’d hyem.                     

But this is a’ of little use,
For what aw de is never reet:                                
She’s like a ‘larm-bell i’ the house,
Ding-dongin’ at me, day and neet.

If aw sud get ma wark ower suin,                        
She’s flaid to deeth aw’ve left some byet;           
And if aw’s till the efternuin
Aw’s drunk because aw is se lyet.                         

Feed us and cleed us weel, she may,                  
As she gets a’ways money plenty;                 
For every day, for mony a pay,                           
Aw’ve hew’d and putten twee-and-twenty.  

‘Tis true aw sometimes get a gill,
But then she a’ways hez her grog;                    
And if aw din’t her bottle fill,                             
Aw’s then a skin-flint, sneck-drawn dog.           

She buys me, tee, the warst o’ meat,                    
Bad bullock’s liver, houghs and knees,                
Teugh, stinkin’ tripe, and awd cow’s feet,           
Shanks full o’ mawks, and half-nowt cheese.    

Off sic she feeds the bairns and me-                    
The tyesty bits she tyeks hersel’,                  
In which ne share nor lot hev we,
Exceptin’ sometimes i’ the smell.

The crowdy is wor daily dish,                              
But varry different is their MINNY’S;
For she gets a’ her heart can wish,
In strang lyac’d tea and singin’ hinnies.      

Maw canny bairns luik pale and wan,                 
Their bits and brats are varry scant:                 
Their mother’s feasts rob them o’ scran,             
For wilfu’ waste makes woefu’ want.

She peels the taties wiv her teeth,                        
And spreads the butter wiv her thoom:               
She blaws the kyel wi’ stinking breeth,               
Where mawks and caterpillars soom!                 

She’s just a movin’ heap o’ muck,                         
Where durts of a’ description muster;                 
For dishclout serves her apron nuik,                   
As weel as snotter-clout and duster!