GOD HELP THE POOR.
Title:God Help the Poor
Publication:Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter
Date:October 19th 1861
This poem is composed of regular quatrains with every other line written in iambic tetrameter. The prominent theme is the suffering and pain experienced by the unemployed cotton workers and their families. We are told that they “are learning How the gaunt form, famine, comes.” The use of the commas to create a moment of silence encourages the reader to reflect early on in the poem. It is almost a preparation for the reader, to take a deep breath and know you are about to read something written in anguish.
Published in the newspaper in October 1861, this poem was written shortly after the closure of the cotton factories and the booming county of Lancashire came to a standstill. The duration of the factory closures remains unknown to the unemployed and that is conveyed to the reader through the regular ABAB rhyme scheme and rhythm of the poem. The eternal flow of the poem allows the reader to be immersed in that feeling of panic and worry.
However, this is soon disrupted by the sudden change in tone. We see a change from “hopeless” to hopeful as the poet appeals to the Christians reading to “Give thy wealth” and offer “gold to the poor”. For the poet, community and charity is a temporary salvation for the cotton workers in a difficult time. The use of the full stop on the end, as used at the end of every quatrain, is a moment for silence. Except this one is everlasting and really emphasises the pity for the poor.
Hannah Monks, University of Exeter