The Guardian

by | Jul 10, 2011 | Poetry | 0 comments

My Grandpa had a conscience
Because he was a member
Of the Poplar Board of Guardians,
Administering the Poor Law
In the poorest part of London
In the early nineteen hundreds.
They oversaw a workhouse.
These were full of paupers,
The undeserving poor,
Who caused their own condition
And sacrificed their freedom
To throw themselves on charity
And thus submit to hopelessness.
Each workhouse fed them skilly,
A thin broth made of oatmeal
Peppered with rat droppings.
Some had no toilet paper
And lavatories were locked at night.
Women would get ringworm
From sharing their bathwater
And many sons and daughters
Were sent away for training,
Learning to be labourers
And then they were deported
To populate the colonies
Because they were not wanted here.
No one really missed them,
They were victims of the system.
My Grandfather did what he could,
A member of the great and good.


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