Rhyming Weavers

And other country poets of Antrim and Down

John Hewitt

During the 19th century there was a flowering of peasant verse in Ulster. Witty, irreverent and deeply egalitarian, these poems were written by working people. First published in 1974, Hewitt’s anthology was an excavation of this important Ulster-Scots literary history, and reissued now, 50 years on, with a new foreword by Frank Ferguson.

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During the nineteenth century there was a remarkable flowering of peasant verse in the Ulster counties of Antrim and Down. Witty, irreverent and deeply egalitarian, these poems were written by working people – hand-loom weavers, small farmers and country schoolmasters – for people much like themselves. The poets wrote in the ‘lively tongue’ of the Ulster-Scots vernacular and drew their themes from the landscape and life of the community at a time when the making of flax into linen played a basic part in the economic and social pattern.

John Hewitt’s ‘Rhyming Weavers’ is both a study and a celebration of the lives and work of these country poets. His extended introduction provides an accessible account of the context in which the poets wrote and is complemented by a select anthology that includes poems by well-known local bards such as David Herbison, James Orr and Samuel Thomson.

First published in 1974, Hewitt’s anthology was an act of recovery, an excavation of a vibrant aspect of Ulster’s literary history. Reissued again, fifty years later and with a new foreword by Frank Ferguson, ‘Rhyming Weavers’ remains a seminal work, making an important contribution to Ulster-Scots writing and to debates about language and identity in these islands.


Format: Paperback / Softback

ISBN / EAN: 9781780733944

Published On: 27 June, 2024

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Blackstaff Press

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