Summer 1981 • Vol. III No. 3 Contemporary English and Irish PoetryJuly 1, 1981 |

Loveless Times

From The Loveless Letters George Loveless was one of the six "Tolpuddle Martyrs," farm laborers transported as convicts from Dorset, England, to Australia in 1834 for the political "crime" of taking a secret oath. He was sent to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), one of the harshest British penal settlements. They were pardoned, largely because of public agitation in England, and returned home in 1837. Dear, distant wife, here the bell does not call us to think on the divine, leaning on the dark wood of childhood in clean and singing rooms, but tolls its signal of terminal release: men like exhausted fish, played out, losing the battle with air. Faith shrinks each second as the coffin's lowered, the half-alive slowly hauling in reverse. I know of a fine homestead built with the craft of prisoners shining at their exercise; the rooms cool and spacious with cedar, fitted with all the fineries of England, the delicate superior ballast of our voyage to this under-wo

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