December 19, 2008

Robert Allen: Owld Men’s Thowts

Noo the canny owld gadjees that wandor aboot
Alang wor village street,
Are the yins that thor wives ivv’ry mornin’ hoy oot
From undorneath thor feet,

Ye can terk as ye like, but it’s aye bin the same
As lang as Ah can mind;
An’ Ah fancy that them that feels pity or shame
Just speak o’t as they find.

Ye can see them theor standin’ at yon gable end
Maist mornin’s o’ the week,
As the wetch erl the gan-bys, or nod ti a friend,
For gey few wors they speak.

But ye wondor what thowts can be flittin’doon thro’
The grey cells o’ their heorts,-
It is dreams o’ thor youth that hev nivvor come true,
But shattor’d at the steorts?

Erl the great Ifs an’ But’s that hev colour’d each life,
The Mebbies an’ the Why’s?
Hoo they might hev won glory instead o’ just strife.-
The thowts that’s eftor-wise?

An’ what hopes hev they noo but a few weory yeors
Afore th’ore cerl’d away,
When a grim quiet heorse an’ a mind full o’ teors
Will speak for them yin day?

From “Canny Bit of Verse”, 1994. ISBN 0-9524649-0-X Published by the author.
Robert Allen's farming and historical poems have been sourced from the Northumberland Language Society. Please contact the NLS as a source ( of more of these brilliant works, and for recordings. The copyright is held by Nigel and Georgina Hall - for enquiries email them on

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