The Emporium Gazette
Issue 15 -- August 2000

Poetry World ~ Regional Voice and Dialect
by Bob Nailor

Poetry with its lilting rhythm and suggestive rhyme will ease you down a path of enjoyment. One can analyze the lines and stanzas until the eyes cross, but perhaps one area will elude you.


You've read poetry that you found interesting, exciting, thrilling, colorful, moving, even exhilarating. Did you take the time to realize why? Did you ever wonder why a particular poem will make you cry while another, very similar, won't have the same impact?

Something got to you. It could have been dialect, which can be emotional, regional, time-dimensional, or even occupational. It can also be any combination.

Dialect is subtle. Quietly sitting on the edge of your mind, it will, from time to time, step out and grab you.

Dialect trips a chord connected to some memory that only you can respond to and understand.

We've all read poetry that had certain words that triggered those memory chords. Shamrocks remind you of Ireland, hearts and roses ooze of love while blue skies and white, fluffy clouds allude to those carefree days of youth we spent daydreaming.

But what if we put an accent into the mix? The following fragment of a poem by Bill O'th' Hoylus End (nom de plume of William Wright) reflects a beautiful, yet heavy Yorkshire English accent. I've included the modern translation, but I feel the true flavor of the poem is lost in it.

Goose an' Giblet Pie

by Bill O'th' Hoylus End



A Kersmas song I'll sing, mi lads, A Christmas Song I'll sing, my lads,
If ye'll bud harken me; If you'll but listen to me;
An Incident I' Kersmas time, An incident of Christmas time,
I' eighteen sixty-three: In eighteen sixty three:
Whithaft a stypher I' the world- Without a penny in the world-
I'd scorn to tell a lie- I'd scorn to tell a lie-
I dined wi a gentleman I dined with a gentleman
O' goose an' giblet pie. On goose and giblet pie

Reading this segment of the poem were you transported back in time? You possibly were transported back in time and region. Could you smell and meld with the atmosphere of a Charles Dicken's world? To read this poem in its entirety and others just as fascinating, visit Bill Bracewell's Barnacle Bill web page at:

For another type of dialect that is also time-dimensional, visit the University of Dayton's web pages at which is dedicated to one of America's first honored black poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar. Be sure to read "When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers" to feel the anguish, love, and heartache. Again, the dialect is what lends the needed atmosphere to the poem.

I mentioned occupational dialect which I'm sure raised an eyebrow. In each occupation there are words, phrases or dialectal slang that surfaces to let the listener hear a small insight into that person's job. Think about your job and within a few minutes you'll have some of the words, jargon, that I'm talking about. If you think I'm kidding, have you ever heard of Cowboy Poetry? Police Poetry? Computer Poetry? Even the lowly regarded garbage man will wax philosophical from time to time and spout a verse of poetry.

If you'd like to read some Cowboy Poetry I recommend the following sites: Paul's Cowboy Poetry Page at and Omar West's Cowboy Poetry at the Bar D Ranch located at

Interested in Police Poetry? Try Police Poems at

Computer Poetry anyone? Check out Computer Poetry at

Dialect can add a certain flair to your poetry and make it stand out in the reader's memory.

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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