Th' Little Black Hand.

A poem by John Hartley

Ther's a spark just o'th tip o' mi pen,
An it may be poetical fire:
An suppoase 'at it is'nt - what then?
Wod yo bawk a chap ov his desire?

Aw'm detarmined to scribble away -
Soa's them 'at's a fancy con read;
An tho' aw turn neet into day,
If aw'm suitin an odd en, ne'er heed!

Aw own ther's mich pleasure i' life;
But then ther's abundance o' care,
An them 'at's contented wi' strife
May allus mak sure o' ther share.

But aw'll laff woll mi galluses braik, -
Tho mi bed's net as soft as spun silk;
An if butter be aght o' mi raik,
Aw'll ma' th' best ov a drop o' churn milk.

It's nooan them 'at's getten all th' brass
'At's getten all th' pleasure, net it!
When aw'm smookin a pipe wi' th' owd lass,
Aw con thoil 'em whativver they get.

But sometimes when aw'm walkin throo th' street,
An aw see fowk hawf-clam'd, an i' rags,
Wi' noa bed to lig daan on at neet
But i'th' warkus, or th' cold-lukkin flags;

Then aw think, if rich fowk nobbut knew
What ther brothers i' poverty feel,
They'd a trifle moor charity show,
An help 'em sometimes to a meal.

But we're all far too fond of ussen,
To bother wi' things aght o'th' seet;
An we leeav to ther fate sich as them
'At's noa bed nor noa supper at neet.

But ther's monny a honest heart throbs,
Tho' it throbs under rags an' i' pains,
'At wod'nt disgrace one o'th' nobs,
'At booasts better blooid in his veins.

See that child thear! 'at's workin away,
An sweepin that crossin i'th' street:
He's been thear ivver sin it coom day,
An yo'll find him thear far into th' neet.

See what hundreds goa thowtlessly by,
An ne'er think o' that child wi' his broom!
What care they tho' he smothered a sigh,
Or wiped off a tear as they coom?

But luk! thear's a man wi' a heart!
He's gien th' poor child summat at last:
Ha his e'en seem to twinkle an start,
As he watches th' kind gentleman past!

An thear in his little black hand
He sees a gold sovereign shine!
He thinks he ne'er saw owt soa grand,
An he says, "Sure it connot be mine!"

An all th' lads cluther raand him i' glee,
An tell him to cut aght o'th seet;
But he clutches it fast, - an nah see
Ha he's threedin his way along th' street.

Till he comes to that varry same man,
An he touches him gently o'th' back,
An he tells him as weel as he can,
'At he fancies he's made a mistak.

An th' chap luks at that poor honest lad,
With his little nak'd feet, as he stands,
An his heart oppens wide - he's soa glad
Woll he taks one o'th little black hands,

An he begs him to tell him his name:
But th' child glances timidly raand -
Poor craytur! he connot forshame
To lift up his e'en off o'th graand.

But at last he finds courage to spaik,
An he tells him they call him poor Joa;
'At his mother is sickly an' waik;
An his father went deead long ago;

An he's th' only one able to work
Aght o' four; an he does what he can,
Throo early at morn till it's dark:
An he hopes 'at he'll sooin be a man.

An he tells him his mother's last word,
As he starts for his labor for th' day,
Is to put all his trust in the Lord,
An He'll net send him empty away. -

See that man! nah he's wipin his e'en,
An he gives him that bright piece o' gowd;
An th' lad sees i' that image o'th Queen
What'll keep his poor mother throo th' cowd.

An monny a time too, after then,
Did that gentleman tak up his stand
At that crossing an watch for hissen
The work ov that little black hand.

An when years had gooan by, he expressed
'At i'th' spite ov all th' taichin he'd had,
An all th' lessons he'd leearn'd, that wor th' best
'At wor towt by that poor little lad.

Tho' the proud an the wealthy may prate,
An booast o' ther riches and land,
Some o'th' laadest 'ul sink second-rate
To that lad with his little black hand.

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