Born this day in 1799, Thomas Hood.
An English social protest poet, though one mention I came across yesterday (when I began this) said he wasn’t political. Can’t remember which one.
Daily Readings May 23
- “I Remember, I remember“
- “The Song of the Shirt“
- “The Bridge of Sighs“
- “The Dream of Eugene Aram“
“The Song of the Shirt,” one of Hood’s most famous poems, has its own page at that infallible source.
It was written in honour of a Mrs. Biddell, a widow and seamstress living in wretched conditions. In what was, at that time, common practice, Mrs. Biddell sewed trousers and shirts in her home using materials given to her by her employer for which she was forced to give a £2 deposit. In a desperate attempt to feed her starving infants, Mrs. Biddell pawned the clothing she had made, thus accruing a debt she could not pay. Mrs. Biddell, whose first name has not been recorded, was sent to a workhouse, and her ultimate fate is unknown; however, her story became a catalyst for those who actively opposed the wretched conditions of England’s working poor, who often spent seven days a week labouring under inhumane conditions, barely managing to survive and with no prospect for relief.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_the_Shirt
The Song of the Shirt With fingers weary and worn, With eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, Plying her needle and thread-- Stitch! stitch! stitch! In poverty, hunger, and dirt, And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the "Song of the Shirt." "Work! work! work! While the cock is crowing aloof! And work — work — work, Till the stars shine through the roof! It's Oh! to be a slave Along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save, If this is Christian work!
Stay well. Keep reading. And enjoy the weekend!