East is behind the gasworks,
West is beyond the town,
In smoke, the daily sun comes up,
In dust, the sun goes down.
Dark smears lie across the moon,
South to the prison wall;
But north is the glare of a furnace flare
Where the factory buildings sprawl.
They were born to this welter of noise and dirt,
Bred to the narrow street;
Half-clad and cold, but nimble and bold
On their asphalt-calloused feet.
Quick to grasp and swift to gain,
Self was the only rule;
They were taught a curriculum of pain
In a violent, loveless school.
So, they, who were never young, grew old
In the ways of their world, and grim;
Then, the factory bench or a labourer’s trench,
And bound by a foreman’s whim.
Their pleasure is boy and girl through crowds
Where the raucous newsboys call;
The sweaty heat of the cinema seat,
Or the din of a cheap dance hall.
Leisure, a bench in a noisy bar,
With gin and a jug of stout;
A bawdy tale with a pint of ale,
And the laugh of a corner lout;
And love is a furtive, doorway kiss
In the haze of the neon stars;
When night is alive with a jukebox jive
And a maelstrom of motorcars.
Perhaps there’s a farther horizon,
Perhaps there’s a wider world;
Perhaps, somewhere, there is cleaner air
Where the smoke has never swirled:
But, bound by these brick horizons,
Can they crave what they’ve never known ?
Gaze east again to the gasworks,
There is the world, their own.
Other pieces by my father:
Today has never been before
"Goldie" the Golden Eagle escapes
Namur King (hub page with photos etc)