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Sea Green Singers - Poverty Knocks - choral - Page 1 only, Page 2 only; click on image to see full size page.click on image to see full size page.


PovertyKnocks as sung by SeaGreen singers

Poverty, poverty knock,
Me loom is a-sayin’ all day,
Poverty, poverty knock,
Gaffer's too skinny to pay
Poverty, poverty knock,
Always one eye on the clock
And I know I can guttle when I hear me shuttle
Go poverty, poverty knock.

1. Up in the morning at five,
Its a wonder that we're still alive,
Stretching and yawning, on this cold morning,
It’s back to the old dreary drive.

2. Oh dear we’re goin' to be late,
Gaffer is stood at the gate
We’re outt o’ pocket, our wages they'll docket,
We’ll gane to buy grub on the slate. And its...

3. And when our wages they;ll bring
We're often short of a string
While we are fratching wi' gaffer for snatchin,
We know to his brass he will cling.

4. We've got to wet our own yarn,
By dipping it into the tarn,
It’s wet and it's soggy, and makes you feel groggy,
There’s mice in that dirty old barn. And its...

5. Oh dear me poor head it sings,
I should have woven three strings,
But threads are a breakin’ and my back is aching,
Oh dear I wish I had wings!

6 . Sometimes a shuttle flies out,
Gives some poor women a clout;
There she lies bleedin’, but nobody's heeding;
And who’s goin’ to carry ’er out? And its...

Poverty Knock sung in dialect with extra verses
Poverty, poverty knocks,
Me loom it keeps sayin’ all day,
Poverty, poverty knocks,
Wi’ allus one eye on the clock,
Ah know Ah can guttle when I ’ear me shuttle
Go poverty, poverty knocks.

1. Up ev’ry morning at five,
Ah wonder that we keep alive,
Tired an’ yawnin’, all on a cold mornin’,
It’s back to that dreary old drive.

2. Oh dear we’re going to be late,
We’re aht o’ pocket, ahr wages they dock it,
We ’as to buy grub on the slate.

3. Oh ’ow my poor ’ead it sings,
Ah should ’ave woven three strings,
But threads are breakin’ an’ my back is achin’,
Ah wish that Ah really ’ad wings!


4. We ’ave to wet ahr own yarn,
By dippin’ it into the tarn,
It’s wet an’ soggy, it makes us feel groggy,
There’s mice in that dirty old barn.

5. Sometimes the shuttle flies aht,
Gives some poor weaver a claht;
There she lies bleedin’, there’s nobody heedin’;
Who’s goin’ to carry ’er aht?

6. Tuner should tackle me loom,
’E’d much rather sit on ’is bum,
’E’s much too busy a courtin’ ahr Lizzie,
An’ I cannot get ’im to come.

7. Lizzie is so easy led,
The’ say that ’e takes ’er to bed,
She used to be skinny, nah look at ’er pinny,
Ah think it’s ‘baht time the’ were wed.

All of the many printed versions of this popular song derive from the singing of Tommy Daniel of Batley who is the direct source of Mick's version. The version in Tommy's typed booklet (See notes to Old Jim Slack's Grey Horse TYG12) only has six stanzas, as the above, but lacking stanza 7.

The seven stanza version recorded by the Hudlestons from Tommy (See Songs of the Ridings, 2001, p27) lacks Mick's stanza 5 and in its place has:

And when ahr wages they bring,
We are often short of a string,
And while we're fratchin' the gaffer for snatchin',
We know to 'is brass 'e will cling.

The version recorded from Tommy Daniel by Tony Green in 1965 and reprinted in a wide variety of anthologies has all eight stanzas, ordered 1, 2, 8, 4, 3, 5, 6, 7 using the above numbered stanzas. Tommy died in April1970 aged 76.

We take our title Poverty Knocks from his typed booklet. In all other publications the title is given as Poverty Knock. Under the title Tommy had typed the following note, 'This worksong dates back to the early power looms. Owing to low wages and the slow dreary "knock-ity knock" sound of the looms, weavers were called 'Poverty Knockers'. Tempo: slow Three Four , but strongly accentuated.'

In the Hudleston version stanza 4, line 3 runs 'It's wet and soggy, it looks a speckled doggy'. Nigel Hudleston in Songs of the Ridings says that Tommy accompanied himself on the ukulele banjo as he did on all three Hudleston recordings. He also points out that the tune is a variant of The Prickly Bush or The Maid Freed from the Gallows, Child 95, Roud 144.