Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Weaver's Triumph - by Edward Sloan

The latest poem posted is The Weaver’s Triumph by Edward L Sloan, of Conlig. Conlig is a village between Newtownards and Bangor, in County Down, and I was a pupil at the village Primary School. This poem comes from Sloan's 1854 book, The Bard’s Offering in the preface of which, he refers to himself as one, ‘young in years, almost uneducated … whose hand has more been used to the daily avocations of the labouring tradesman than wielding the pen’. Like many of the Ulster-Scots folk poets, Sloan was a weaver and a Freemason and there are hints in some of his poems that he at least contemplated emigrating to America. Many of Sloan’s poems are either in English, or have only a touch of Ulster-Scots, with this one being the most Ulster-Scots.

The Weaver’s Triumph
By Edward Sloan

It was but yestreen I had oot my bit claith, man,
Tuk it under my arm, doun tae Balford I went,
Untae the Braid Square, tae wee cockit Rab’s warehoose –
For a trifle o’ cash, man, it was my intent.
My noddle bein’ reeming wi’ stoups o’ guid liquor,
I marched in fu’ stately and throwed the dud down,
Whan a cock-o’-the-north o’ a foreman, ca’d Hudson,
Whispered tae his employer – ‘We’ll gi’e him a croon.’

My wee bit o’ labour bein’ thrown on the counter,
Wi’ butterfly’s een tae examine’t he goes;
He hemmed and he ha’d, and he swore it was shameless,
Syne oot wi’ his snoot-cloth and dighted his nose.
He swore that the warp would been better by double –
For their penny collars ‘twas nae use ava;
Though the price o’ my labour was just half-a-guinea,
He would gi’e me a shilling and let me awa.

I glowered at the ape wi’ twa een like red cinders,
While wee cockit Rab at his knavery did wink;
Quo’ I, ‘Honest foreman, ye ha’e turned a barber,
Tae shave simple weavers sae neatly, I think;
But haud ye, a jiffey, my potstick-legged callan –
For my nine-and-sixpence I’ll gi’e ye some fun:
I’ll ca’ doun your betters tae think on your capers,
And see if you’ll rob me, you half-stocked gun.’

Noo, twa honest neebours together convened.
And examined it weel, frae beginning tae end;
And the verdict they gi’en was, ‘Return him his money,
Or before Parson Wilkins* you’ll ha’e tae attend.’
My money I pouched wi’ a rollickin’ smirk –
O oh! What was the look that his foremanship gi’en!
Quo’ I, ‘Honest foreman, act somewhat mair justly:
You see arbitration’s but seldom your frien’.’

Noo, some o’ my neebours mayna ken this same foreman,
But I’ll draw you his portrait, as well as I can,
Though it’s nae easy job for a puir, simple weaver,
As I would wrang him greatly, tae ca’ him a man:
His face – it’s the texture an’ shape o’ a monkey’s;
Each cheek would hold neatly a shilling o’ pence;
A’ the wit that he has in his weel-theekit noddle’s
What oor neebour Tam ca’s a “guid griping sense.”

He’s like – but why need I attempt to describe him –
The pen o’ a Buffon would soon be tae blame;
Some day, when auld Nature has been busy working,
She has tossed by the gruns – made him oot o’ the same.
Fareweel tae ye, Robin; adieu tae your foreman –
A sweet pair o’ rascals you are, I declare;
It’s a pity tae waste pen and ink on sic creatures –
Guid-bye tae ye neebours, I’ll noo say nae mair

* A magistrate

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