"Roll in splender" with poetry pottery

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God Speed The Plough "Let the wealthy and great, Roll in splender and state, I envy them not" verse on pottery fragment

National Poetry Day is on 2 October, and to celebrate, the Museum of Liverpool is displaying some pieces of pottery from the Regional Archaeology Collection which are decorated with verses.

These fragments of cups, which date to the first decade of the 19th century were discovered by archaeologists at the Manchester Dock, on the site of the Museum of Liverpool before construction of the building began.

It’s likely this cream-ware pottery was made in Staffordshire, and brought to Liverpool to be decorated with the black transfer prints which bear the poems. They were broken in warehouses or transit, and then discarded on the waterfront as land was being reclaimed from the River Mersey in the process of building the Manchester Dock.
Fragments decorated with verses are on display in the Manchester Dock spotlight in the History Detectives gallery and in a special small display in the atrium, where the complete poems are transcribed too. The verses can tell us a little about the social context of the period: some provide moral instruction, such as Patience; ‘Patience will wipe away the streaming tear’. Others may have been made with a Liverpool market in mind, such as the maritime themed Poor Jack; ‘Can’t you see the World’s wide and there’s room for us all/ Both for Seamen and Lubbers ashore’.

A Friend That Is SocialItems on display in the atrium 4 September – 29 October. Items in Manchester Dock spotlight on first floor are on display permanently.