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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Reinhard Lyr Req: The Hewer (High Level Ranters) (5) Lyr Add: THE HEWER (Alexander Barrass) 30 Mar 19

notes and lyrics from the booklet of The High Level Ranter's album "The Bonnie Pit Laddie":

The Hewer

This and the "Putter" are parts of a long narrative poem based on the format of Robert Burns' "Cottar's Saturday Night" entitled The Pitman's Social Neet. It was written by Alexander Barras of West Stanley Co. Durham, a self-educated classical scholar and poet by inclination and a colliery engine-winding man by trade.

A lifelong supporter of the temperance movement, he was encouraged and to a certain extent lionized by the local middle class and minor gentry. Their possibly misplaced encouragement of his undoubtedly derivative talents as an "art" poet led him to concentrate his efforts in this direction. Awareness of his failure in this field led to very bad depression and final madness and he died in Sedgefield Lunatic Asylum.

He did however, leave behind the Pitman's Social Neet, one of the most graphic poetic accounts of pit-life in North West Durham.

The Hewer is a fine description of the mechanics of that trade and the striving to increase earnings on "piece work".

Aa needn't tell ye what aa de Aa'm here for all te view
The black marks that disfigure us prove clearly that Aa hew.
Aam up i' the mornin' 'fore the lark doon at the break o' day.
As seun as Aa lay lowse mi wark the laddie hears us say.

Hinney put the led'un in. The led'un in the led'un in,
Hinney put the led in and let's hev her full.

Aa alweys sump when in the wall as far as Aa can fend.
And smack! the roondie and the small Aa skelp off the back end.
For since the prices are se law for yards and coal and clay,
Aa find it's mi best plan ye knaa te keep the sump away.

Now Aa mek a point when i' the board te keep her nice and square,
Te curve her in aboot a yard, a yard and six or mair.
Aa nick her up at baith the nyeuks and wedge or blast her doon.
Then fill her up for priests and kyeuks and folks aboot the toon.

When it s mi luck on cavellin' day a broken place te win.
Then all Aa de is bawl away, "Come in, mi lad, come in".
Aa slush and fill like fire and fun; Aa've neither cares nor doots,
Untill mi toke bunch is done and then gans up mi cloots.

Ah but let mi place be where it will in brocken flat or hyel,
Aa'm there te box her ivory day wi picks Aa shaft misel'.
For de ye see mi wife and bairns need meat and Sunday claes.
And if these come oot what one man earns he mun gan aall his days.

But quiet noo for lowse is called, thet welcome soond Aa hear.
Then Aa've not only sung and bawled but blunted all mi gear.
Forbye Aa've got the hitch and mate, the hitch is not te hew.
There's nowt for me but just te wait till the stoneman puts her through.

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