With a slip of paper, notes Green, "Priestley had marked a particular poem" in the slim volume:
"Out of Work"
Alone at the shut of the day was I,
With a star or two in a frost clear sky,
And the byre smell in the air.
I'd tramped the length and breadth o' the fen;
But never a farmer wanted men;
Naught doing anywhere.
A great calm moon rose back o' the mill,
And I told myself it was God's will
Who went hungry and who was fed.
I tried to whistle; I tried to be brave;
But the new plowed fields smelt dank as the grave;
And I wished I were dead.
|....and the byre smell in the air.|
So many detective stories were published during the Golden Age of detective fiction (more than any one person ever could read) that it might give one pause in saying what "almost all" of them did or did not do, though I think it's fair to say that the exposure of social ills was less of a concern in the Golden Age, when one prominent school of thought urged the view that "realism" did not belong in the mystery tale.
However, poet Kenneth Ashley wrote a single detective novel, Death of a Curate (1932), in which unemployment is addressed, in a rural north England setting, with nary a country house party in sight. It's a very good book and definitely off the beaten Golden Age track, at least in my experience. Find out more when I give my full review this weekend.