The Love Child

A poem by William Barnes

Where the bridge out at Woodley did stride,
Wi' his wide arches' cool sheäded bow,
Up above the clear brook that did slide
By the poppies, befoam'd white as snow;
As the gilcups did quiver among
The white deäsies, a-spread in a sheet.
There a quick-trippèn maïd come along,
Aye, a girl wi' her light-steppèn veet.


An' she cried "I do praÿ, is the road
Out to Lincham on here, by the meäd?"
An' "oh! ees," I meäde answer, an' show'd
Her the way it would turn an' would leäd:
"Goo along by the beech in the nook,
Where the children do plaÿ in the cool,
To the steppèn stwones over the brook,
Aye, the grey blocks o' rock at the pool."


"Then you don't seem a-born an' a-bred,"
I spoke up, "at a place here about;"
And she answer'd wi' cheäks up so red
As a pi'ny leäte a-come out,
"No, I liv'd wi' my uncle that died
Back in Eäpril, an' now I'm a-come
Here to Ham, to my mother, to bide,
Aye, to her house to vind a new hwome."


I'm asheämed that I wanted know
Any more of her childhood or life
But then, why should so feäir a child grow
Where no father did bide wi' his wife;
Then wi' blushes of zunrisèn morn,
She replied "that it midden be known,
"Oh! they zent me awaÿ to be born,
Aye, they hid me when some would be shown."


Oh! it meäde me a'most teary-ey'd,
An' I vound I a'most could ha' groan'd
What! so winnèn, an' still cast azide
What! so lovely, an' not to be own'd;
Oh! a God-gift a-treated wi' scorn
Oh! a child that a squier should own;
An' to zend her awaÿ to be born!
Aye, to hide her where others be shown!

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