“People sink,” wrote Mr. Bishop; “they have no stamina left, they say ‘It is the will of God’ and die.”
—The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845–1852,
by Cecil Woodham-Smith
A work such as this was never from God:
poor people evicted to wander the road,
or to the dark poorhouse where man and wife lie
in separate wards, locked apart till they die.
The children they always gave such loving care
are snatched from their parents—no tenderness there—
fed a watery soup as from hunger they cry,
with no mother’s comfort, alone till they die.
The gentry, the great ones: pity them if you can.
To God they must pay for this work of their hands,
and for the world’s poor, whom riches pass by
as they serve their life’s sentence: hard work till they die.
Since the blackened potatoes we’re scattered from home;
now we rot in the poorhouse or to foreign lands roam.
Cast in pits on the hillsides, in our hundreds we lie—
Oh God in your heavens, won’t you answer our cry?