Punch,  57 (1869), 251.

Barking the Blest



Poetry, Drollery


Government, Politics, Pollution, Sanitation

    This poem attacks the evils of self-government, by comparing Barking, the northern outfall of the London sewerage system, to 'an Elysium'. Describes the rich 'odours' that emanate from the basin into which the drains flow, the 'savoury London muck' brought to Barking station by barges, and the fact that the smells and sights are so bad that 'Barking causeth biting / To eyes and nose also!'. Explains that the town, including its cesspools and roads, is 'self-governed', the cesspools being 'left to clean themselves'. Suggests that London would be poisoned if it were to emulate the self-government of Barking, and warns that Barking could wreak its 'vengeance' on London 'By sending down its sewage / To the mouth of Barking Creek'. Imagines that Barking would be a 'Paradise' for a guardian of the St Pancras Poor Law Union who would consider the stench of Barking to rival that of his 'ward'. Concludes by ironically suggesting that Barking represents the ideal of 'unfettered / Self-Government' that 'London ought to be'.

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