Fantasia on a Theme of James Wright
There are miners still
In the underground rivers
Of West Moor and Palmersville.
There are guttering cap-lamps bound up in the roots
Where the coal is beginning again.
They are sinking slowly further
In between the shiftless seams,
To black pools in the bed of the world.
In their long home the miners are labouring still -
Gargling dust, going down in good order,
Their black-braided banners aloft,
Into flooding and firedamp, there to inherit
Once more the tiny corridors of the immense estate
They line with prints of Hedley's Coming Home.
We hardly hear of them.
There are the faint reports of spent economies,
Explosions in the ocean floor,
The thud of iron doors sealed once for all
On prayers and lamentation,
On pragmatism and the long noyade
Of a class which dreamed itself
Immortalized by want if nothing else.
The singing of the dead inside the earth
Is like the friction of great stones, or like the rush
Of water into newly opened darkness. Oh my brothers,
The living will never persuade them
That matters are otherwise, history done.