Mining Poem – Elegy.


The conservatory glows softly, the lantern of Jordanhill
While outside prickly curiosity in the winter grass strains
The blackbird’s tedious tug of war with the worm
That unravels the lawn like runaway knitting to reveal

Miners marching up from our Edwardian colliery below
An invasion of names like Tedesco and Trewick
Who still argue about the price of tin from the Phoenicians
And the Morgans who are headed up to the new Fife field from Wales –

From the inkline valleys to drill miles beneath the Firth of Forth.
Now there’s a male voice choir on the landing, and a brass band on the stairs
The bathroom is a pithead shower flooded with black faces and reverse panda eyes
Our books are lent out and read for the Institute library

The kitchen houses Kentish troublemakers from Snowdown and Betteshanger
The cellar is full of near naked men, sweating  together with picks and shovels
The hall is full of crusading scarlet banners from the Durham Gala cathedral service
The living room television is switched on, and Gormley in black and white

Is saying  “Who governs, Ted? Well it bloody certainly isn’t you!”
But the band is playing the Gresford hymn out of tune
And the choir has forgotten the words and is no longer singing Joe Hill
But ‘ERE WE GO as Arthur declaims from the roof and Mick shakes his head

Watching pickets, scabs and bosses coppers break heads in suburban gardens
Then they are smaller and fewer and now all gone God knows where
Leaving the house empty again with only this cage of light in a shaft of night
And the pit out there is a void capped with the grass playing field crust

While a set of grimy pit-boot tracks trips across the pastel hall carpet
To the cellar which is empty too and where the only sound is a tinny pick and
The exhausted creak of lonely pit props a mile down and a century away.


One thought on “Mining Poem – Elegy.

  1. Very much enjoyed this, Peter! Excellent. The tone of this poem—and partly the style—bring to mind a particular excerpt from my own novel length Poem, ‘A History of Feeling: Dreams & Nightmares’ — a short passage (from part 1) roughly the length of your poem on the war of attrition between Scargill and Thatcher; when she died recently I decided to go back into the poem and extend her role in it. However, even today the images of pitched battles between miners and soldiers of the state remain as vivid as they first appeared on our screens.


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