Recent Posts

23 October 2012

I would rather work in mill than in pit


I hurry in the clothes I've now got on,
trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place
upon my head made by thrusting the corves;
my legs have never swelled, but sisters’ did
when they went to mill; I hurry the corves
a mile and more under ground and back;
they weigh three hundredweight; I hurry
eleven a-day; I wear a belt and chain
at the workings to get the corves out;
the getters that I work for are naked
except their caps; they pull off all their clothes;
I see them at work when I go up; sometimes
they beat me, if I am not quick enough,
with their hands; they strike me upon my back;
the boys take liberties with me sometimes,
pull me about; I am the only girl
in the pit; there are about twenty boys
and fifteen men; all the men are naked;
I would rather work in mill than in pit.




17-year-old Patience Kershaw's account of working in a Halifax coal pit, from a report about the condition of young persons employed in coal mines in Facts and Figures, May 2, 1842. Found in Futility Closet. A few words omitted for scansion: 'is' (line 3), 'they' (16), 'coal' (19); and 'I have' contracted in line 1. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

0 comments: