LINES Suggested by the Cartoon in Fun for December 9th, 1865.
Old Father Christmas comes again,
And with him comes good cheer;
‘Tis only houseless wanderers
Who need have ought to fear.
When the wind shrieks loud and shrill,
The storm is at its height,
‘Tis then the houseless wanderers
Seek shelter for the night.
They seek and seek, and beg in vain,
For time has passed away
That homeless wanderers should claim
A shelter till the day.
And huddled up and crouched they lie
Beneath the bitter sky;
But houseless wanderers are seen
By one all-seeing eye.
It is a foul and crying shame,
In Liberty’s own land,
That the “Guardians of the poor”
Should rule with despot hand.
For hearts there are, enough, I trow,
In charity do give,
So that the houseless wanderer
May have wherewith to live.
Author:W. J. Grimshaw
Keywords:charity, homeless, poverty
This poem, published six months after the end of the American Civil War, rails against inequalities in Britain and has its particular focus on the issue of the homeless at Christmas. Homelessness was hugely exacerbated by the unemployment caused by the Lancashire Cotton Famine and though cotton had begun to return to the mills in the region, many people had not yet recovered anything like their former prosperity. – SR