Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

An Unhappy Exception

July 23, 2012

An Unhappy Exception.

The world is full of changes; there is nothing here abiding;
All things are evanescent, fleeting, transitory, gliding,
The earth, the sea, the sky, the stars — where’er the fancy ranges;
The tooth of time forever mars — all life is full of changes.

Like sands upon the ocean’s shore that are forever drifting,
So all the fading scenes of earth incessantly are shifting.
Change rules the mighty universe — there is no power can block it.
There’s change in everything, alas! except a fellow’s pocket.

— Nixon Waterman, in Chicago Journal.

Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Apr 25, 1895

The Beggar Boy

May 31, 2012

The Beggar Boy.

A WORDSWORTHIAN IMPROMTU.

I saw a boy, wasted and sad,
With eyes all red and crying;
Three pence was all the tin he had, —
Or else the boy was lying.

His cheeks were pale and ghostly thin,
His breeches they were thinner;
He looked death’s own, when he stept in,
Or else he was a sinner.

HE said his mother long was dead,
His father in the prison pent —
And yet he cooly raised his head
And asked a penny for their rent.

“O ho!” I said, “you want a cent
Upon pretenses frail;
Why pay your buried mother’s rent?
Or father’s locked in jail?”

He sadly bit his pale thin lip,
A tear stole out his eye;
I thought I had him on the hip —
I thought he’d told a lie.

At length he spoke, in quivering tone,
And midst the words he wept; —
“My father soon is coming home,
He’s most worked out his debt.

“And mother, while she starved and died,
On our cold cellar floor,
Would often call us to her side,
And tell us Christ was poor.

“She said that He would give us bread,
That He would take her trust;
When our sick mother should be dead,
And mouldered into dust.

“She said her spirit would not die,
But often with us be,
And often too, we’d feel her nigh,
Though in eternity.

“And since she died,” the pale boy said,
“We’ve found her words were true;
At night we see her by our bed,
Her face of brilliant hue.

“All round our little room she’ll tread,
And stay sometimes till light;
Oh, no! her spirit is not dead,
She’s with us all the night.

“And often when we sob and sigh,
And think we’ll never sleep,
A soft hand wipes the tearful eye —
We feel we must not weep.

“And so dear James and little May,
And I live on alone;
From door to door I beg all day
For bread to carry home.

“And when at times I bring some meat
We save it all the night,
That mother when she comes may eat
Or gladden at the sight.

“And so, kind sir, I asked a cent,”
The faltering boy kept on,
“To help make out our weekly rent,
Till father can come home.

And so the tatter’d boy was right,
The rent was for the dead!
His mother lived with him at night,
Close by her children’s bed.

*   *   *   *   *
Turn not away the stricken poor,
With harsh and chilling air;
Think when they hover round your door,
‘Tis Christ who sends them there.

The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Aug 26, 1854

The Poor Man’s May

May 25, 2012

Image from The Nevada Observer

The Poor Man’s May.

Sweet May? they tell me thou art come:
Thou art not come to me;
I cannot spare a single hour,
Sweet May? to welcome thee.
God knows how hard I’ve work’d this week,
To earn my childrens bread;
And see, we have an empty board, —
My children are unfed.

And art thou still the same sweet May
My childhood loved so well,
When humming like a happy bee,
Along some primrose dell,
I though, O! what a lovely world
Is this, dear God has given,
And wondered any one should seek
For any other heaven?

The hawthorn buds are come again,
And apple blossoms too;
And all the idel happy birds
May sing the long day through,
The old green lane awakes once more,
And looks, perhaps, for me:
Alas! green lane, my heart may die —
I cannot come to thee.

The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Jul 29, 1854

In Poverty Street

September 2, 2010

Image from the Old Picture of the Day blog. (LINK)

We’re coming up on Labor Day, the economy is in the toilet, and the unemployment numbers are not looking good. Pretty soon we will all be:

IN POVERTY STREET.

It’s dirty, ill-smelling,
Its fellows the same,
With hardly a dwelling
Deserving the name;
It’s noisy and narrow,
With angles replete —
Not straight as an arrow
Is Poverty street.

Its houses are battered,
Unheated and small,
While children all tattered
Respond to the call;
There’s nothing inviting
That’s likely to greet
The stranger alighting
In Poverty street.

But something redeeming
Lies under it all —
Ambition is dreaming
In some little hall;
Some mother is praying
Successes may meet
The boy who is playing
In Poverty street.

Some fathers, depriving
Themselves of all joys,
Are valiantly striving
For sake of their boys;
Some sisters or brothers,
In sacrifice sweet,
Are living for others
In Poverty street.

Though lacking in glory,
And lacking in art,
There’s many a story
Appeals to the heart;
And years that are blighting
With tales of defeat
Find heroes still fighting
In Poverty street.

–Chicago Post.

Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) Apr 15, 1896

Notice this poem was published on April 15th, ha ha!

Image by Paula Krugerud at http://www.pbase.com)

RENO REVUE

By GLADYS ROWLEY

So they buried Banker Bill. And there is mourning in Shantytown…

The first news accounts of an accident, last week, stated that an aged man, identified only as “Pat,” had been instantly killed when he walked into a moving car on the highway between Reno and Sparks.

Next day his identity has been established: He was John Elliott, stated the Journal, “81-year-old former sheepherder…a native of Missouri…a resident of Nevada for 45 years.”

But to his friends — and he had many — he was otherwise known. To them he was “Banker Bill” — who lived in “the big house” — in Shantytown.

Those who live along the river banks, on the outskirts of Reno, don’t bother much about names. The rest of us may call the section “Hoover Island” or “Shantytown.” Still others see it in a modern version of pioneer days, and think it should be called the “Reno Frontier.”

But the men, women and children who live there have other things to worry about. Only one name did I see when I visited a neighbor of Banker Bill’s. Neatly lettered on the side of a box-car house, a realist had written his address: 1000 POVERTY STREET.

There they do the best they can about the business of living. They have learned to minimize their requirements. A little fuel, for warmth, for cooking, is made to go a long way. They frequently go for it to a wood and coal company nearby. Sometimes it goes “on the cuf.” And before the bundle is carried home, they pass the time of day with the company’s proprietors.

So it was that I heard they were “grieving for Banker Bill.”

Mrs. Malcolm P. Armstrong knew him. And knew that the man identified as John Elliott “had been sort of got to these people.”

She introduced John W. Brandenburg, who told me, “We called him ‘Banker Bill’ because we always went to him about money matters.

“If you had to have five dollars, for instance, he’d just hand it to you,” he explained. “But if you asked for $20, he’d ask some questions about your ability to repay the loan.”

Mr. Brandenburg thought that I should talk with another friend of Banker Bill’s, Glen Hinkley, so we went to his home on the river bank — just below “the big house” back of the mill where “the banker” had lived.

Asked where Banker Bill had obtained capital for his simplified system of finance, both men assured me that he had received an old age pension, and had further eked it out with odd jobs, “though his age was against him there.”

Sometimes he had done a little mining. and then there were the borrowers who repaid him – sometimes — with interest:

“He always exacted interest,” said Mr. Hinckley, “if he knew the borrower could afford it.

“But he never collected half of what was owed him.”

Other things, too, the man had shared with his friends:

“He might have seemed kind of cranky — if you didn’t know him,” they said, “but he never turned anybody away without help.

“He’d share his own food, and his own blankets, before he’d let anybody go hungry or cold. No matter what they needed, if they deserved it, they got it from Banker Bill.”

Not often is such a floral offering seen at a funeral as that sent by his friends for Banker Bill’s last rites. He would have liked it, they knew:

“He was just crazy about wild flowers,” they said. “So we went out and gathered a great big bunch of wild flowers for when he was buried this afternoon.”

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) May 2, 1940

“The Salvation Army Home Service Campaign for $13,000,000 will be conducted during the week of May 19-26. It will spend every cent of the amount in the “Poverty Streets” of the United States.”

POVERTY STREET

The way lies crooked — winding ’round,
Ever, descending — leading down
To alleys dark where children creep;
To gaudy halls where women weep;
In Poverty Street.

One path cuts through the gloomy way,
One woman walked it day by day.
Midst vice and squalor she alone
Calls to the weary — leads them home
In Poverty Street.

They call her “Angel of the Slums”
Ever devoted, on she comes
Ever consoling, gentle, kind
She lifts the fallen, leads the blind
In Poverty Street.

E.M. Clary

Evening Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) Apr 28, 1919

The Old Court Leet in Cross Street ( Image from http://www.thepotteries.org)

THE MEETING PLACE

(A Warning)

I saw my fellows
In Poverty Street, –
Bitter and black with life’s defeat,
Ill-fed, ill-housed, of ills complete.
And I said to myself, —
“Surely death were sweet
To the people who live in Poverty Street.”

I saw my fellows
In Market Place, —
Avid and anxious, and hard of face,
Sweating their soul in the Godless race.
And I said to myself, —
“How shall these find grace
Who tread Him to death in the Market Place?”

I saw my fellows
In Vanity Fair, —
Revelling, rollicking, debonair,
Life all a Gaudy-Show, never a care.
And I said to myself, —
“Is there place for these
In my Lord’s well-appointed policies?”

I saw my fellows
In Old Church Row, —
Hot in discussion of things High and Low,
Cold to the seething volcano below.
And I said to myself, —
“The leaven is dead.The salt has no savour. The Spirit fled.”

I saw my fellows
As men and men, —
The Men of Pain, and the Men of Gain,
And the Men who lived in Gallanty-Lane.
And I said to myself, —
“What if those should dare
To claim from these others their rightful share?”

I saw them all
Where the Cross-Roads meet; —
Vanity Fair, and Poverty Street,
And the Mart, and the Church, — when the Red Drums beat,
And summoned them all to The Great Court-Leet.
And I cried unto God, —
“Now grant us Thy grace!”

*     *     *     *     *     *

For that was a terrible Meeting-Place.

Title: All’s Well!
Author: John Oxenham
Publisher: G.H. Doran, 1916
Pages 72-74

Beg, Beggars, Beggary

February 26, 2009

Sympathy by Frederick Judd Waugh

Sympathy by Frederick Judd Waugh

The pictures I’ve used don’t go with the poems exactly, but have the same theme.

BEGGARY.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “POVERTY’S DREAM.”

I stood by a desk in my little store,
Turning the leaves of a volume o’er,
Now of a monarch, reading slowly–
Then of a God-man, far more lowly,
Of whom the olden records say,
He knew not where his head to lay.

I turned from that sacred book of yore,
As a shadow darkened that small glass door,
A shadow–but scarce more frail than she
Who lifted her pitiful eyes to me,
And, trembling, against the county bent,
She wept, and begged for a single cent.

Her cheek was white, and lean, and high,
And little lustre was in her eye;
Though from its glances a wildness shot,
That told of pleasures she now had not,
And as a silent suppliant, she
Stretched forth her pallid hand to me.

I read on her wasted face the tale
That has made a thousand spirits quail.
O! I would willingly hear my knell,
Wee there no more such tales to tell.
Cursed be the want and woe that lent
Such value to a coveted cent!

The woman–oh! thin and young she was–
Shook like a blade of wind-stricken grass,
And hectically she blushed to know
That a world was witness to her woe;
But with that hectic flush, a sigh
Showed that death to her heart was nigh.

She paused a moment beside the door,
Until the throe of her pain was o’er,
And I, into her open palms,
Had dropped a poor man’s meagre alms;
And then she prayed on my soul might fall
That Father’s blessing who gives us all.

The shadow glided across the door,
And vanished slowly, to come no more.
May God preserve thee, deserted thing!
Thy sorrow my heart is harrowing.
It was so mournful to see thee bent
In supplication for a cent!

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Mar 22, 1852

The Beggars' Breakfast by Jean Geoffrey

The Beggars' Breakfast by Jean Geoffrey

THE BLIND BEGGAR.
BY C.G. EASTMAN.

He sits by the great high road all day —
The beggar blind and old,
The locks on his brow are thin and grey,
And his lips are blue and cold;
The life of the beggar is almost spent,
His cheek is pale and his form is bent,
And he answereth low and with meek content,
The sneers of the rude and bold.

All day, by the road, hath the beggar sat,
Weary, and faint, and dry —
In silence, patiently holding his hat,
And turning his sightless eye,
As, with cruel jest and greeting grim,
At his hollow cheek and eye-ball dim,
The traveller tosses a cent at him,
And passeth hastily by.

To himself the blind old man doth hum
A song of his boyhood day,
And his lean, white fingers idly drum
On his thread bare knee where they lay;
And oft, when the gay bob-o’link is heard
The song of the youth-hearted yellow bird,
The jar of life, and the traveller’s word,
And the shout of children’s play;

He starts and grasps with a hurried hand
The top of his smooth-worn cane,
And striking it sturdily into the sand —
Then layeth it down again!
While his black little spaniel, beautiful Spring,
That he keeps at his button-hole with a string,
Leaps up, and his bell goes tink-a-ling ling;
As he yelps with impatient pain.

Then he counteth his gains with quiet heed,
As the few through his fingers slide,
He knows is scarcely enough to feed
The beautiful dog by his side;
So he holdeth his hat and waiteth still,
Though the day is worn and the night is chill,
With patient hope his hand to fill
From the offals of pomp and pride.

He sites by the great high road all day;
That beggar blind and old,
The locks on his brow are thin and grey,
And his lips are blue and cold;
Yet he murmureth never, day nor night;
But seeing the world by its inner sight,
He patiently waits with a heart all light,
Till the sum of his life shall be told.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Feb 7, 1842

Misery by Fernando Pelez

Misery by Fernando Pelez

THE BEGGAR BOY.

“Stay, lady stay, and list awhile,
A poor and beggar boy am I;
Bereft of pity’s beaming smile,
And sunk in woe and misery.

“There was a time, when on the couch
Of ease, I tun’d to notes of joy;
But now (save scorn, and keen reproach,)
There’s nothing left the beggar boy.

“Once I could boast of parents, friends;
E’en maidens’ love I once possess’d;
But now no pitying hand extends
Its help, to sooth my aching breast.

“There was a time — alas! ’tis gone
When fortune, FICKLE fortune smil’d;
Enwrapt in joy I journey’d on,
And was pronounc’d her fav’rite child.

“But like the transient meteor’s light,
That sporting fleets along the sky,
But quickly fading from the sight,
Deceives the wandering gazer’s eye.

“So sportive fortune woke to me,
And wrapt me in delusive joy,
SHE FLED — and meagre poverty,
Was all she left the beggar boy!”

LYSANDER

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jan 26, 1825

If you like these, I also posted a couple of poems about ORPHANS that  are similar in theme.