Poem on the Week

Share this article

Charles Dickens.

Bicentennial of his Birth.07.02.1812 – 09.06.1870.

The Early Years

Born in Portsmouth, off to Bloomsbury the family went;

Then shortly afterwards, to Chatham, down in Kent,

Where he spent lots of time outdoors and loved to read,

Memorizing people’s ways, and taking great heed.

They were poor and his father lived beyond his means,

So they returned to London, ‘not worth a row of beans’.

Marshalsea debtor’s prison took them in the end

And Charles boarded out with Liz, a family friend.

On Sundays he went to Southwark, to visit Mum and Dad,

But seeing them in prison, just made him rather sad.

He moved home to a ‘back attic’, in Camden Town,

Then left school for a job, to save him ‘going down’.

Working ten hours a day, in a rat infested shack,

Tasked with pasting labels on to pots of boot-black.

His family left prison, on ‘coming into money’,

But his Mother made him work on – no milk and honey!

He never forgave her for the stand that she took,

And showed his feelings for women, in more than one book.

He did, at last, go back to school, without much support,

But was most unhappy with the way that he was taught.

His next job in an office, in Gray’s Inn, a junior clerk,

Then as a freelance reporter, where he made his mark.

It drove home the heavy burden, placed upon the poor,

Who couldn’t pay for their defence, in the courts of law.

He fell in love at eighteen, but Maria’s parents looked askance

And stopped it very quickly, by despatching her to France!

His first story appeared in London’s ‘Monthly Magazine’.

The ‘Morning Chronicle’ then hired him, he was so keen.

His journalism flourished, with fine ‘Sketches by Boz’

And by 1836, on his way? – yes he was!

Don Filliston