Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl

You shrewdly observed the pathetic poor

that begged, brawled and swindled;

compelled by justice to unlock doors:

scripture commanded, anger-kindled.


Children slept under weaving looms,

tugged wagons in deep coal caverns,

choked in chimney stack, soot and fumes;

parents wages wasted in gin taverns.


Your childhood mother was mindful maid

whispered her nightly maternal prayers;

your despotic father’s petty rules obeyed

until you inherited title, became an heir.


With statesmen you sat in House of Lords

gave many children hope, fresh starts;

on dull committees you struck a chord

softened hard parliamentarian hearts.


Debt damaged your family estate,

spoiled the seat, tarnished the crest:

you sold off paintings and silver plate,

to ensure tenants be generously blessed.


All energy expended after many years,

indentured labourers were freed from hell;

at your state funeral many wiped tears:

prostitutes and royalty bid final farewell…


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