Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Tom Glew by Jennifer Compton

Tom Glew

If this man hadn't died untimely in his 37th year in 1886
his widow would not have been forced to keep house
for my great-great whatever and his thirteen children.
Nor would she have married him, long after his wife died.

He bequeathed it all, everything he died possessed of,
to her, to Lucy Glew, as was. Or so my brother says,
with bitterness. The mansion on the hill in Aro Street,
the Royal Tiger, the row of workers' houses, the lot.

The rents and revenues his children were accustomed to.
And when she died she left it to the Church. Imagine that.
I imagine she had been his wife in fact before they wed,
a bearded widower, a pragmatic yet comely housekeeper.

Perhaps sin preyed on her mind in her second widowhood,
stoutly creaking in her corsets, as respectable as anyone.
But the Spot, the Stain, known only to the One who knows.
So she drew up her Testament to save her soul from Hell.

She bought indulgence with money down, under the counter,
because this remission of punishment was quashed in 1662.
But still. No harm done to leave what you can't take with you.    
The generations yet to come left to make shift on their own. 

My brother tells me he throws stones at Tom Glew's epitaph
Beloved Husband Of Lucy GlewWhy did you have to die,
you silly bugger? We are shoeless now and it's all your fault.
Families do fall, and we fell into our familiar improvidence.


  1. Enjoyed this, Jennifer,especially the final line which wrapped it all up so nicely. Thanks for posting.

  2. Oh yes! love it Jen - so much in there - that wonderful Dickensian name Lucy Glew - throwing the stones at the gravestone of a man who did no other wrong than died youngish leaving Lucy to wreak havoc with a family's inheritances ... how many times did that happen, a man falling for his housekeeper - and she, practically, falling in with him - what other options did she have? And leaving her everything - if he didn't she'd have been penniless and he couldn't do that to her could he?

  3. I love the poem.
    I loved it that much I have researched Lucy and written a factual story on her in my book on the Compton family. Lucy Glew, (nee Pearman) was left virtually nothing. The Royal Tiger, mansion etc belonged to the Mitchell family, a different family line. I was fascinated by poor Lucy the women the family loved to hate. Poor Lucy was in a desperate situation as Thomas Glew was bankrupt . I think old JC was lucky to score a lovely young lady like Lucy. A lovely poem that played on my mind for weeks.