Cambodunum is the name of a Roman station, situated on a farm at Slack, on the hills above Huddersfield.
how I love the sound o' t' name!
Roman sowdiers belt a fort here,
gave th' owd place its lastin' fame.
We've bin lords o' Cambodunum
for well-nigh eight hunderd yeer;
Fowk say our fore-elders
bowt it of a Roman charioteer.
Ay, I know we're nobbut farmers,
mowin' gerse an' tentin' kye,
But we're proud of all we've stood for
i' yon ages that's gone by;
Proud of all the slacks we've drained,
an' proud of all the walls we've belt,
Proud to think we've bred our childer
on the ground wheer Romans dwelt.
"Niver pairt wi' Cambodunum,"
that's what father used to say;
"If thou does, thou'll coom to ruin,
beg thy breead thro' day to day."
I'll noan pairt wi' Cambodunum,
though its roof lets in the rains,
An' its walls wi' age are totterin';
Cambodunum's i' my veins.
Ivery stone about the buildin'
has bin dressed by Roman hands,
An' red blooid o' Roman sowdiers
has bin temmed(1) out on its lands.
Often, when I ploo i' springtime,
I leet on their buried hoard--
Coins an' pottery, combs an' glasses;
once I fan' a rusty sword.
Whisht! I'll tell thee what I saw here
of a moon-lit winter neet--
Ghosts o' Romans i' their war-gear,
wheelin' slow wi' silent feet;
Pale their faces, proud their bearin',
an' a strange gloor i' their een,
As they marched past an' saluted,
while th' east wind blew snell an' keen.
Dalewards, dalewards, iver dalewards,
th' hill-fowk wander yeer by yeer,
An' they toss their heeads an' flout me,
when they see me bidin' here.
I've one answer to their fleerin':
"I'll noan be a fact'ry slave,
Breathin' poison i' yon wark-shops,
diggin' ivery day my grave."
"You may addle brass i' plenty,
you'll noan addle peace o' mind;
That sal bide amang us farmers
on th' owd hills you've left behind."
See that place down theer i' t' valley,
wheer yon chimleys spit out smoke?
Huthersfield is what they call it,
wheer fowk live like pigs i' t' poke;
Wheer men grind their hearts to guineas,
an' their mills are awlus thrang,
Turnin' neet-time into day-time,
niver stoppin' th' whole yeer lang.
Cambodunum up on th' hill-tops,
Huthersfield down i' yon dale;
One's a place for free-born Britons,
t'other's ommost like a jail.
Here we live i' t' leet an' sunshine,
free as larks i' t' sky aboon;
Theer men tew(2) like mowdiwarps(3)
that grub up muck by t' glent o' t' moon.
See yon motor whizzin' past us,
ower th' owd brig that spans our beck;
That's what fowk call modern progress,
march o' human intelleck.
Modern progress, modern ruin!
March o' int'leck, march o' fooils!
All that cooms o' larnin' childer
i' their colleges an' schooils.
teeming brass reight down a sink;
Eddication's nowt but muckment,
sanitation's just a stink.
Childer mun have books an' picturs,
bowt at t' most expensive shops,
Teliscowps to go star-gazin',
michaelscowps to look at lops.(4)
Farmers munnot put their midden
straight afoor their kitchen door;
Once a week they're set spring-cleanin',
fettlin' up their shippen(5) floor.
Women-fowk have taen to knackin',(6)
wilent speyk their mother-tongue,
Try to talk like chaps i' t' powpit,
chicken-chisted, wake i' t' lung.
Some fowk say I'm too owd-feshioned;
mebbe, they are tellin' true:
When you've lived wi' ghosts o' Romans,
you've no call for owt that's new.
Weel I know I san't win t' vict'ry:
son's agean me, dowters, wife;
Yit I'll hold my ground bout flinchin',
feight so long as I have life.
An' if t' wick uns are agean me,
I sal feight for them that's deead--
Roman sowdiers i' their trenches,
lapped i' mail thro' foot to heead.
Here I stand for Cambodunum,
eagle's nest on t' Pennine hills,
Wagin' war wi' modern notions,
carin' nowt for forges, mills.
Deeath alone sal call surrender,
stealin' on me wi' his hosts,
And when Deeath has won his battle,
I'll go seek my Roman ghosts.
Then I'll hear their shout o' welcome
"Here cooms Bob 'o Dick 'o Joe's,
Bred an' born at Cambodunum,
held th'owd fort agean his foes;
"Fowt for ancient ways an' customs,
ne'er to feshion bent his knee;
Oppen t' ranks, lads, let him enter;
he's a Roman same as we."