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Christmas with William Barnes — Christmas invitation

William Barnes’s knowledge of and affection for the dialect and customs of ordinary Dorset people shines through his poems – all the more endearingly, given his remarkably wide and powerful intellectual gifts. The pleasures of Christmas enjoyed by Dorset folk seem to have interested him particularly. One of the poems that he wrote on the subject is below and two others follow elsewhere in the magazine. They are offered with all best wishes to the readers of Dorset Life – The Dorset Magazine for a happy Christmas and a peaceful 2007.

Come down to-morrow night; an, mind
Don’t leave thy fiddle-bag behind;
We’ll sheake a lag, an’ drink a cup
O’eale, to keep wold Chris’mas up.

An’ let thy sister teake thy earm,
The walk won’t do her any harm;
There’s noo dirt now to spweil her frock,
The ground’s a-vroze so hard’s a rock.

You won’t meet any stranger’s feace,
But only neighbours o’the pleace,
An’ Stowe, an’ Combe; an’ two or dree
Vrom uncle’s up at Rookery.

An’ thou wu’lt vind a rwosy feace,
An’ peair ov eyes so black as sloos,
The prettiest woones in all the pleace, –
I’m sure I needen tell thee whose.

We got a back-bran, dree girt logs
So much as dree ov us can car;
We’ll put ‘em up athirt the dogs,
An meake a vier to the bar.

An’ ev’ry woone shall tell his teale,
An’ ev’ry woone shall zing his zong,
An’ ev’ry woone wull drink his eale
To love an’ frien’ship all night long.

We’ll snap the tongs, we’ll have a ball,
We’ll shake the house, we’ll lift the ruf,
We’ll romp an’ meake the maidens squall,
A’ catchen o’m at blind-man’s buff.

Zoo come to-morrow night; an’ mind,
Don’t leave thy fiddle-bag behind;
We’ll sheake a lag, an’ drink a cup
O’eale, to keep wold Chris’mas up.

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