William Barnes



William Barnes is buried in St. Peter's Churchyard, Winterborne Came, Dorset, England. (Winterborne Came is a deserted village and the church is difficult to find.)


Grave of William Barnes (Photo by Cameron Self)

His grave lies close to the church's south-west window and is marked by a tall Celtic cross.

Barnes is chiefly remembered as the Dorset dialect poet. He wrote with great affection about the landscape and people of Dorset and was greatly admired by other Victorian poets including Hardy, Tennyson, Patmore, Allingham and Hopkins. (In fact, his work was a major influence upon both Hardy and Hopkins.) Unfortunately, however, Barnes'  use of dialect has made him somewhat inaccessible  - particularly to modern readers.

For much of his life Barnes worked as a school teacher. He was a highly learned man and is thought to have had a understanding of at least sixty languages. He was also fiercely opposed to the corruption of the English language with Greek and Roman terms - preferring, for example, the word 'pushwainling' to perambulator.

From 1862 until his death in 1886 (at the age of 85) Barnes was rector of Whitcombe and Winterborne Came.

When Barnes died Hardy wrote the poem The Last Signal for him.

My Orcha'd in Linden Lea - one of Barnes' poems - was later set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Barnes is also commemorated with a  statue outside St. Peter's Church, Dorchester.

William Barnes

When in the evenčn the zun's a-zinkčn,
  A-drowčn sheädes vrom the yollow west,
An' mother, weary, 's a-zot a-thinkčn,
Wi' vwolded eärms by the vire at rest,
          Then we do zwarm, O,
So vull o' glee by the welshnut tree.

From The Welshnut (Walnut) Tree

William Barnes Society






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