Beastrabban\'s Weblog

I found this poem, Children in Front of a London Soup Kitchen, by Ernst Stadler, in Peter Vansittart’s Voices: 1870-1914 (New York: Franklin Watts 1985). I thought I’d post it here, because the growth of child poverty in the UK and foodbanks has meant that it’s coming back.

I saw children, a long line of them, arranged in pairs, stand in front
of the building where the poor are fed.
They waited, untalkative, weary, for their turn at the nightly
They were dirty and in rags, squeezed up against housefront and
Little girls around pale babies cupped hands that were failing.

Hungry,, intimidated they stood among lamps being lighted,
Many with delicate faces by marks and dark bruises blighted.
Their clothing smelled of basements, ill-lit rooms, of scolding and
Their bodies were scarred by deprivation and premature drudgery.

They waited: soon the others would be through…

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