Poetic Justice

4 minute read

To form the street, if one may call it street,
Where ducks and pigs in filthy forum meet;
A scrambling, careless, falter’d place, no doubt;
Each cottage rude within doors as without;
All rude and poor; some wretched, - black and fair
And doleful as the cavern of Despair.
(Bloomfield V. 25-30)

The narrow toils and hardships of the poor,
Which no kind hand assists them to endure;
For rich and poor, contrasted lots at best,
Here plainly mean oppressors and opprest.
(Bloomfield VI. 17-20) 60

“Lord Crashton: The Absentee Landlord”

Joining Sir Ulick’s at the river’s bend,
Lord Crashton’s acres east and west extend;
Great owner here, in England greater still.
As poor folk say, ‘The world’s divided ill.’
On every pleasure men can buy with gold
He surfeited; and now, diseased and old,
He lives abroad; a firm in Molesworth Street
Doing what their attorneyship thinks meet.
The rule of seventy properties have they.
Wide waves the meadow on a summer day,
Far spread the sheep across the swelling hill,
And horns and hooves the daisied pasture fill;
A stout and high enclosure girdles all,
Built up with stones from many a cottage wall;
And, thanks to Phinn and Wedgely’s thrifty pains,
Not one unsightly ruin there remains.
Phinn comes half-yearly, sometimes with a friend,
Who writes to Mail or Warder to commend
These vast improvements, and bestows the term
Of ‘Ireland’s benefactors’ on the firm,
A well-earn’d title, in the firm’s own mind.
Twice only in the memory of mankind
Lord Crashton’s proud and noble self appear’d;
Up-river, last time, in his yacht he steer’d,
With Maltese valet and Parisian cook,
And one on whom askance the gentry look,
Altho’ a pretty, well-dress’d demoiselle -
Not Lady Crashton, who, as gossips tell,
Goes her own wicked way. They stopp’d a week;
Then, with gay ribbons fluttering from the peak,
And snowy skirts spread wide, on either hand
The Aphrodite curtsied to the land,
And glided off. My Lord, with gouty legs,
Drinks Baden-Baden water, and life’s dregs,
With cynic jest inlays his black despair,
And curses all things from his easy chair. \

“The Eviction”

In early morning twilight, raw and chill,
Damp vapours brooding on the barren hill,
Through miles of mire in steady grave array
Threescore well-arm’d police pursue their way;
Each tall and bearded man a rifle swings,
And under each greatcoat a bayonet clings:
The Sheriff on his sturdy cob astride
Talks with the chief, who marches by their side,
And, creeping on behind them, Paudeen Dhu
Pretends his needful duty much to rue.
Six big-boned labourers, clad in common freize, \
Walk in the midst, the Sheriff’s staunch allies;
Six crowbar men, from distant county brought, -
Orange, and glorying in their work, ‘tis thought,
But wrongly,- churls of Catholics are they,
And merely hired at half a crown a day.
The hamlet clustering on its hill is seen,
A score of petty homesteads, dark and mean;
Poor always, not despairing until now;
Long used, as well as poverty knows how,
With life’s oppressive trifles to contend.
This day will bring its history to an end.
Moveless and grim against the cottage walls
Lean a few silent men: but someone calls
Far off; and then a child ‘without a stitch’
Runs out of doors, flies back with piercing screech,
And soon from house to house is heard the cry
Of female sorrow, swelling loud and high,
Which makes the men blaspheme between their teeth. \
Meanwhile, o’er fence and watery field beneath,
The little army moves through drizzling rain;
A ‘Crowbar’ leads the Sheriff’s nag; the lane
Is enter’d, and their plashing tramp draws near,
One instant, outcry holds its breath to hear
“Halt!” - at the doors they form in double line,
And ranks of polish’d rifles wetly shine.
The Sheriff’s painful duty must be done;
He begs for quiet-and the work’s begun.
The strong stand ready; now appear the rest,
Girl, matron, grandsire, baby on the breast,
And Rosy’s thin face on a pallet borne;
A motley concourse, feeble and forlorn.
One old man, tears upon his wrinkled cheek,
Stands trembling on a threshold, tries to speak,
But, in defect of any word for this,
Mutely upon the doorpost prints a kiss,
Then passes out for ever. Through the crowd
The children run bewilder’d, wailing loud;
Where needed most, the men combine their aid;
And, last of all, is Oona forth convey’d,
Reclined in her accustom’d strawen chair,
Her aged eyelids closed, her thick white hair
Escaping from her cap; she feels the chill,
Looks round and murmurs, then again is still.
Now bring the remnants of each household fire;
On the wet ground the hissing coals expire;
And Paudeen Dhu, with meekly dismal face,
Receives the full possession of the place.