Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for Manufacturers

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: Joseph Masters, 1850.

VI. The Cloth-Workers.

A pleasant time, in the month of May,
Is the earliest Summer weather,
When the shepherds come, at the shearing day,
And drive their flocks together;
And the village is out in its gayest trim,
And the rams are led to the river's brim,
And are caught,
And are taught,
One by one, how to swim.

For England's sheepwalks are fair and wide;
Her pastures her glory and pleasure;
Her wool is her staple, her flocks are her pride,
And the cloth that they yield is her treasure;
So firm in its texture, so fine in its form,
So ready for Christmas, so proof to the storm,
Made to wrap,
In its nap,
Hearts as sound and as warm!

We are not pent in the dingy room
Of a city-lane, as many;
Where the sun never shines, and the plants never bloom,
And air they scarce have any:
As we go to our work, as we stand in the mills,
We can look on the Gloucestershire valleys and hills,
Hear the breeze
On their trees,
See the foam of their rills!

In the mill, where we full the woven wool,
The water is evermore pouring;
And the mallets fall, both one and all,
And the wheels are revolving and roaring:
And then, that our broad-cloth may keep up its fame,
We must stretch it with care on the tenter-frame;
And there
Give it air,
Or our work is to blame!

The fulling is done, and the felting comes next,
That our stuff may be matted the tighter;
And then with the teazles the cloth must be vex'd,
That its gloss may be better and brighter:
When the dressing is over, the finish is near,
We have but to stretch out the piece, and to shear:
Well begun
Is half done,--
And our hands will be clear!

And we, in the troublesome world where we live,
Have a teazling to suffer full often:
We must take it with patience, must give and forgive,
Its end is to smooth and to soften:
Ill looks and hard sayings are teazing enough,
But they brighten our looks, and they better our stuff,
And are friends
In their ends,
Though their friendship be rough!

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