Victorian poverty crime and squalor

Written by: Peter Dome

Born into a life of poverty crime and squalor
where hunger and cold winds bite
and disease is rife
and it was a daily battle to stay alive
and find some food to stay alive.

Uneducated illiterate caught in the poverty trap
drinking polluted water
from the same polluted cholera riddled tap.

An impoverished woman
sells her body for a cheap bottle of Gin
and a lodging for the night
while a pickpocket and mutcher
ever watchful
look for a pocket to alight.

The deafening clunk and clatter
of horses and carts on the cobbled ground
and shouts from the street market traders
echo all around.

Children play and run through the narrow
crowded streets
dressed in rags no shoes upon their feet
The putrid stench from the gutter
and thick choking bellowing
smoke from factories
make one heath and make it hard to breath.

Dilapidated hovels and buildings
covered in black soot
horse manure and raw sewage 
under foot.

Beggars with large mournful eyes
reach out pleadingly to the passing gentry
to fill their empty bowls with plenty.

A peeler pins a notice of a forthcoming hanging
at the local Gaol for the few who can read
upon a rusty nail.

A  Mother desperate to feed her hungry children
steals a loaf of bread from a market stall
but is soon captured  in the sprawl.

The judge sentences her to 10 years
penal servitude far over sea in Botany bay
but she dyes aboard the ship of fever
upon the way.

Her 9 children are sent to the workhouse
for the poor to gain some education
and work hard behind it's hellish door
never to see their Mother or escape poverty
ever more.


Peter Dome.copyright.2012.