See there’s a bit of sunshine thro’ the pane –
How cool and moist it looks amid the rain!
I like to hear the splashing of the drops
On the house tops,
And the loud humming of the folk that go
Along the streets below!
I like the smoke and roar – I am so bad –
They make a low one hard and still her cares **
There’s Joe! I hear his foot upon the stairs! -
He must be wet, poor lad!
He will be angry, like enough, to find
Another little life to clothe and keep,
But show him the baby, Parson – speak him kind –
And tell him Doctor thinks I’m going to sleep.
A hard hard life is his - he need be strong
And rough, to earn his bread and get along; -
I think he will be sorry when I go,
And leave the little one and him behind.
I hope he’ll see another to his mind
To keep him straight and tidy. Poor old Joe!
- Fortnightly Review.

Title:The Infant

Author:Robert Buchanan

Publication:The Bolton Chronicle

Published in:Bolton

Date:July 22nd 1865

Keywords:death, poverty


This skilful and poignant poem by Robert Buchanan is in the voice of a young woman about to die, presumable from the aftermath of childbirth. She sees her husband coming home and hopes that he will find someone else to look after himself and the baby who will survive her. There are references to poverty and possibly alcohol abuse in the poem, and published at the end of the economic privations of the Cotton Famine this kind of scene would have been familiar to many. At the very least this serves as an affecting portrait of the life and death of the poor. – SR