The Poem

My Orcha'd in Lindèn Lea was written by Dorset writer & poet William Barnes (1801-1886). It was first published in 1859 in Hwomely Rhymes: A Second Collection of Poems in The Dorset Dialect, and was then entitled My Orchet in Linden Lea. The second edition of this book, published in 1863 as Poems of Rural Life in The Dorset Dialect, Second Collection, saw the title amended with "Orchet" respelled "Orcha'd" and a grave accent added to the "e" in "Linden". Some changes were also made to the poem itself, the two instances of the word "auver" in Verses 1 and 2 being replaced with the more conventional spelling of "over". However, although I have used the later version of the title on this page, I have decided to remain loyal to the original text of the poem.

My Orcha'd in Lindèn Lea
William Barnes

'Ithin the woodlands, flow'ry gleäded,
By the woak tree's mossy moot,
The sheenèn grass-bleädes, timber sheäded,
Now do quiver under voot;
An' birds do whissle auver head,
An' water's bubblèn in its bed,
An' there vor me the apple tree
Do leän down low in Linden Lea.

When leaves that leätley wer a-springèn
Now do feäde 'ithin the copse,
An' païnted birds do hush their zingèn
Up upon the timber's tops;
An' brown-leav'd fruit's a-turnèn red,
In cloudless zunsheen, auver head,
Wi' fruit vor me, the apple tree
Do leän down low in Linden Lea.

Let other vo'k meäke money vaster
In the aïr o' dark-room'd towns,
I don't dread a peevish meäster;
Though noo man do heed my frowns,
I be free to goo abrode,
Or teäke ageän my hwomeward road
To where, vor me, the apple tree
Do leän down low in Linden Lea.

The majority of the poem can be understood without needing prior knowledge of the Dorset dialect. One word, however, deserves particular attention. Many will be familiar with the word moot in its various modern usages, and would be forgiven for thinking that "the woak tree's mossy moot" was some sort of woodland meeting place. But this wasn't Barnes's intention at all. In the Dorset dialect, the word moot is actually taken to mean the bottom and roots of a felled tree - put simply, a tree-stump - a definition that fits much better with the natural tranquility evoked by Barnes's words.

Nevertheless, in 1868 it was deemed necessary to publish a "translation" of Barnes's work, entitled Poems of Rural Life in Common English. This book combined all three collections in the series into one volume, and it is interesting to note that it predated the combined volume in the Dorset dialect by eleven years. As far as I know, the text of the "Common English" translation is not currently available online; however, I have provided one such translation of My Orcha'd in Lindèn Lea on the following page wherein I describe how, 42 years after it was written, the poem was Set To Music.

In another attempt to forge a tenuous link between Lyndenlea and this poem, you might also be interested to read about My Own Orchard at Lyndenlea.

Downloads & Related Links

Poems of Rural Life in The Dorset Dialect, Third Collection
The third and final book in the series was first published in 1862, although this edition is from 1863. As far as I know, the text of the first collection (published in 1844) is not currently available online.
Poems of Rural Life in The Dorset Dialect
This combined volume of all three collections in the series, published in 1879, contains the same amendments to My Orcha'd in Lindèn Lea as appeared in the 1863 edition of the second collection. The poem appears on page 186 of the book, but page 136 if you're using the website's Online Reader. This volume also includes at the end A List of Some Dorset Words (starting on page 325 of the Online Reader) from which the above definition of "moot" was taken.
Poetry Connection
A short biography of William Barnes along with a selection of his poems, including his last in the Dorset dialect, The Geäte a-Vallen to, which he dictated shortly before his death in 1886. It was featured as their "Poem of the Day" on Monday, 30th June 2003, My Orcha'd in Lindèn Lea being similarly featured on Tuesday, 31st January 2006.