In the Orphanage

It’s not a viewpoint 
or a minor political aspect
it’s neither left nor right
being human when facing  
their mica-eyes gazing,

to give rather than take;
it’s not being righteous
blaming children, abandoned
for the faults of their fathers,

It’s not being sinful
to open your heart to the poor
instead of shutting
the doors to your church
praising yourself and your pack
with communion and mass.

Today Sarah hosts poetics at dVerse and she asks us to write poems using three little words that also describe a location at the site what3words. To make the choice simple Sarah has selected various places in London, and mass.humid.aspect brought me to the Foundling Museum that once was the location of  Britain’s first home for children at risk of abandonment.

October 13, 2020

23 responses to “In the Orphanage

  1. Oh, Bjorn, that last stanza is just perfect. The contrast between the open heart and the closed church is so powerful. I’m glad you linked your words back to the place. It added a little extra satisfaction for me!

  2. Oh this is an amazing poetic portrait of the Foundling Museum which was pinpointed by the three words. “mica-eyes gazing” is such an amazing image for this particular place.

  3. I love where your three words took you – the Foundling Museum is a place to visit. It is even more interesting than Gressenhall, the Norfolk workhouse museum. As we know from reading Dickens, Victorian orphanages, workhouse and debtor’s prisons were just awful. I admire how you have embraced the awfulness, Björn, and woven it into your words.

  4. I had to study the foundling hospital a bit while I was at uni (we did a module on London). Your poem breaks my heart a little bit, remembering the masses of personal items taken from the children and kept by the foundling hospital because they felt it was better for the children to have no connection.

  5. Kudos for pinpointing the location. Your Dickens-like piece is stark and brave. We must not remove our gaze from history, lest we forget.

  6. You make a powerful statement about the dichotomy between the gold-gleaming churches and the mica-eyed gazes of orphans. Haunting for anyone with a heart.

  7. A most evocative portrait of the Foundling Museum, Bjorn! I especially like; “It’s not being sinful to open your heart to the poor instead of shutting the doors to your church.” 🙂

  8. Bjorn, you drove this quickly to the message of human goodness and kindness. I detest the hypocrites going to church regularly while ignoring the cries of the poor at their doors.

  9. It happens I chose the same words and had written my poem (which pales by comparison) before I read yours. Your political/social point of view is spot on (as the Brits say). I was touched by the perspective of the mothers finding it necessary to abandon their babies.

  10. ‘Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door ‘ – a great poem with a strong message, reminding me of Blake’s ‘Holy Thursday.’ I’ve never been inside the Foundling Museum but in front of it is Coram’s Fields, now a huge play area filled with children’s laughter on sunny days: it’s hauntingly beautiful if you know the story of the foundlings.

  11. kaykuala
    It is going back to history with a great message for awareness. Adults are so tested on how to survive and we seem to be forgetting of the children. How true, Bjorn!


  12. This is a moving piece and I do like the last stanza as it pushes us to do more, especially those of us with the power and means and responsibility to do so. Beautiful!

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