Poems on the Coal Industry

By John Robinson

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Coal

The mines are a closing
The last whistle sounds
It's the dole you are bound for
No more work underground

For all the coal miners
Who suffered and died
Who sweated and toiled
With their sons by their side

From Lanark to Derby
Where the pit wheels once turned
Still the working folk suffer
Has nothing been learned?

The spirit's unbroken
The history lives on
Though the fires have gone out
Recollections are strong

Through strike and disaster
Through hardship and pain
The stories won't leave us
They'll be told yet again

To break the trade unions
The North was betrayed
There's no place for forgiveness
There's a price to be paid

The banners still flutter
The old men still curse
While the profits are lining
The businessmans purse

From the Somme to the coalfields
To Depression and strife
To the oft broken promise
Of a much improved life

Such a heartless destruction
Of a proud way of life
They cut through communites
Like a cold surgeons knife

Remember the miners
And remember them well
And to those who deceived them
You can all go to hell

The Last Northumbrian Coal Mine

Six hundred years of sweat and toil
In that deep and dark abyss
The entrepreneur has spoken
Blown a tasteless goodbye kiss.

Two hundred men and boys
Crushed and gassed and drowned
New Hartley, 1862
Beneath that cold, cold ground.

At Burradon, 1860
Seventy six were burnt and maimed
They were only slaves and chattels
No need to be ashamed.

No sick pay, no such benefit
No mercy from the rich
Like the Paddies in the famine
Left to die within that ditch.

Families torn asunder
Communities destroyed
Where the hell was the compassion?
The obligation's null and void.

We'll not forget you Thatcher
And your heartless decimation
Your ultimate achievement
A bitter, divided nation.

Northern coal helped build this country
While the Irish laid the rails
Betrayal comes easier than honour
All that's left are old men's tales.