The pamphlet is ‘Fan-peckled’ – which in old Shropshire dialect means ‘freckled’. The twelve poems are all built on dialect words and phrases from ’The Shropshire Word-Book, A Glossary of Archaic and Provincial Words, Etc., Used in the County’ by Georgina F. Jackson. It was first published 1879 by Adnitt & Naunton of Shrewsbury, and a rare facsimile copy was tracked down by my intrepid partner as my Christmas present in 2019.
I was entranced by the Shropshire Word-Book, which is arranged alphabetically. Each word or phrase is listed with its phonetic pronunciation, its meaning and use, and also its provenance. So entries look like this:
It was very hard to choose twelve words – but I did, and here they are: Shalligonaked; Talking to Mommets; Fan-peckled; Lady-with-the-ten-flounces; Barley-child; Glid; Buts and Feerings; Noonspell, Keffel; Clicket; Geoltitudes, and a Corve of Oddlings.
Here’s Katy Alston’s illustration for the title poem, ‘Fan-peckled’. The word was collected from Wem, and Whitchurch.
And here’s a short extract from the poem that goes with this picture –
Then morning fetched a dot-dance in the woods of deckled oak leaves and the bee-pad footfalls, pollen-tickled, in the foxglove.
There was a seven spot ladybird drawn with a pen, who uncased crinkled wings to fly at the sun.
And here’s an illustration for ‘Talking to Mommets’ – which means, ‘self-communing in low-toned speech’ and was collected from Pulverbatch.
'Mister Ambler's in the ivy nave, and thinks he is alone. He's looking at our old bronze bells, long-fallen into mud. Their mouths are full of leaves...' I'll keep you posted!