General Poetry posted December 6, 2017

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And the Miners Cry Please read notes first

Cumberland Below

by artemis53

Keep canaries close,
lamps lit
as you descend,
for it be thirteen hundred down
by the time
you reach the end.

Black as hell they say
from the dust
and lumps of coal
so dark it seems to seep
right through flesh
onto your soul.

With pick axe they be working
to fill each rolling cart
the youngest just the age of ten
a fearsome, dreadful start.
To the 'seasoned' just another day
for darkness brings no fears.
It's the dust and gas that'll take ya
and has been so...
through the years.

And today shall bring a meeting
of the Saviour with each soul
for canaries die
and the dust swirls 'round.
There be

in the Hole."

Cumberland shall contain them...
Their final resting place.
and they'll never meet the sun again
for there's coal dust
on each face.

So remember if you venture
on down to gates of hell
just don't forget canaries
and hold 'em real well.

Springhill in Cumberland Nova Scotia was established in 1889 due to its rich deposits of coal and was a major producer of this product for it's time. The risks of coal mining are well documented and the towns first disaster occurred in 1891 taking 125 lives only two years after it had been established. Since this area was so dense in it's deposits (translating into a monetary windfall to not only the owners but the town) it commenced to produce again.
In 1956 another explosion occurred 5,500 feet below the surface when coal dust was disturbed, derailing the cars and setting off an 'arc' of fire from a power line. Thirty-Nine died and two of the collieries were sealed to eliminate oxygen that was fueling the fires until 1957 when the dead were removed and these areas sealed for all time.
In 1958 a severe 'bump' (earthquake) commenced underground on October 23, 1958. Survivors were found 13,400 feet down but those below did not survive. A total of 75 miners were killed in this third incident.
I have used Peter, Paul and Mary's version of the 1958 disaster due to it's clarity of lyrics and not the disaster of 1891 in the poem.
This is the first time I've attempted a historical narrative in poetry. Please be kind ;-)
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