Manning’s description is exceptionally positive. She writes: ‘This is a real find from the fruitful resource of the NMC Songbook…Australian-born Sadie Harrison, now resident in Dorset, is a composer of startling originality whose work deserves to be better known. An admirably open and adventurous spirit allows her to embrace an unusually wide range of international collaborations with unquestionable verve. Here she grasps with both hands the chance to assert her presence in a relatively small-scale work that is large in achievement. Liberally imbued with the essence of her rural environment, this piece bubbles over with the joy of being alive in Springtime….A juicily resonant poem in sung dialect…is set with artful, infectious relish, an ingenious amalgam of the rustic and the sophisticated.’
Sadie writes: William Barnes was born in 1801 at Bagber, near Sturminster Newton in North Dorset. He was educated locally and worked as a solicitor's clerk until 1823, when he became a schoolmaster. In 1827 he married Julia Miles. Her death, in 1852, affected him deeply; many of his poems describe his love for her. He was ordained in 1848 and was appointed curate at Whitcombe near Dorchester. Barnes died in 1886; his obituary in the Saturday Review read: 'There is no doubt that he is the best pastoral poet we possess, the most sincere, the most genuine, the most theocritan; and that the dialect is but a very thin veil hiding from us some of the most delicate and finished verse written in our time.'
Last Easter Jim put on his blue
Frock cwoat, the vu'st time-vier new;
Wi' yollow buttons all o' brass,
That glitter'd in the zun lik' glass;
An' pok'd 'ithin the button-hole
A tutty he'd a-begg'd or stole.
A span-new wes-co't, too, he wore,
Wi' yellow stripes all down avore;
An' tied his breeches' lags below
The knee, wi' ribbon in a bow;
An' drow'd his kitty-boots azide,
An' put his laggens on, an' tied
His shoes wi' strings two vingers wide,
Because 'twer Easter Zunday.