Gin Lane


That wretched beast upon the stairs
her child in freefall unaware.

Her tit un-suckled, withered, sags,
she pinching snuff among the lags.

In kettled pots the liquor swills
dispensed as slops by those it kills,

who smiling gasp then beg for more
while treading piss they drank before.

their inane grins on hollowed cheeks
betray the sins they cannot speak.

The barrow boys who fleece the corpse
upend the stiffs with no remorse,

where in the guttered waste they lie
their sated taste has drunk them dry.

© Wolfgar 2020

2 thoughts on “Gin Lane

  1. A tough and pithy poem David. Well put together and interesting. Yes, the slums of London (mostly in what are now posh parts of central London) were disgusting. But more disgusting was the hypocrisy of the ‘respectable’ men who abused the child prostitutes and knew EXACTLY what was going on in these courts .One in ten houses in Victorian London was a child-brothel, the clap was endemic and spread into the middle class – courtesy of ‘respectable’ husbands and fathers. Dickens, the insomniac night walker, knew the horrendous physical and social conditions of life forced upon the London poor as in ‘Bleak House’ where Jo, the crossing-sweeper, lives in the slum of Tom-All-Alone’s (behind Tottenham Court Road, if my memory serves):

    “Jo lives that is to say, Jo has not yet died in a ruinous place, known to the like of him by the name of Tom-all-Alones. It is a black, dilapidated street, avoided by all decent people; where the crazy houses were seized upon, when their decay was far advanced, by some bold vagrants, who, after establishing their own possession, took to letting them out in lodgings. Now, these tumbling tenements contain, by night, a swarm of misery. As, on the ruined human wretch, vermin parasites appear, so, these ruined shelters have bred a crowd of foul existence that crawls in and out of gaps in walls and boards; and coils itself to sleep, in maggot numbers, where the rain drips in; and comes and goes, fetching and carrying fever and sowing more evil in its every footprint than Lord Coodle, and Sir Thomas Doodle, and the Duke of Foodle, and all the fine gentlemen in office, down to Zoodle, shall set right in five hundred years though born expressly to do it.

    I could go on about the false distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor, the ubiquity of
    Laudanum (a tincture of opium), the use of gin as an anesthetic etc. Anyroadup, David, as you see from the above, a very thought provoking poem. Thank you.




  2. Thanks John for reading and the excellent comment,

    and thank you also for the attachment which made for interesting reading.

    You are quite right of course, what I didn’t do with this poem (intentionally so) was to express any opinion or reason as to why such abominable people fell into this state of social depravation.

    Partly I was describing the illustration which I attached, additionally I wanted to assess the scene without giving it the necessary context by which the reader might find within themselves any sense of empathy or sympathy. It is so very easy to dismiss these apparent cockroaches when they are judged merely by how they present themselves or by how they are presented.

    In this age the same things go on and on, we constantly see judgements made by media sources which are often supported by photographic images which are not given context or which even more unforgivably are given fraudulent context (see UKIP poster with line of refugees behind Farage) Now, I am not in favour for finding excuses for all anti-social behaviour, far from it…but it is unfortunate that people allow themselves such readiness to judge without knowing facts or context.

    I could go on and on about social injustice (as I know so could you) it will never be over whilst we are so divided as a society, so it will probably never be over.

    I have to thank you again John for your commentary because it has very much highlighted the rather guarded one I was attempting to make.


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