Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl

You shrewdly observed the pathetic poor

that begged, brawled and swindled;

compelled to un-bolt unjustly locked doors:

scripture command and anger-kindled.


Children slept under weaving looms,

and tugged wagons deep in coal caverns,

roasted to death from smoke stack fumes;

parents impoverished by gin taverns.


In childhood, your kind, mindful maid

whispered maternal minded prayers;

despotic father’s ruthless rules obeyed

then you inherited title, became heir.


Laws crafted in House of Lords

gave English children fresh starts;

on consensus committees a chord

struck, re-fashioned harder hearts.


Prior debt damaged your family estate,

tarnished the sterling silver crest:

sold paintings, set service and plate,

tied-tenants were generously blessed.


Energy expended after many years,

indentured labourers freed from hell;

at state funeral hankies wiped tears,

prostitutes and royalty bid final farewell…


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