The Old Pit Shaft, Birchills

Now, the lurid sun of autumn sinks to rest
Through the gloom of smoke and fog-bank in the west.
Now the forges spurt and flare, and the furnace, big and bare,
Seem to glory in the glare upon her breast.

Here are hillocks, heaped and moulded, grey and green :
Sombre mounds with glints of water in between,
Where a ghostly basin hides and a phantom coal-boat rides,
Or in eerie silence glides across the scene.

Here the stunted scrub and brambles cluster thick
Round a low and ragged broken wall of brick ;
And within its narrow bound, where it rings the shaft around,
Lies the world of Underground - of prop and pick.

For within, the pit is gaping sheer and grey,
And the sparrows roost and chirp the ebb of day ;
And the rusted iron links swing abandoned in the chinks,
Where the sodden timber sinks and falls away.

And I dream of all the story buried there :
Of the human hopes, the triumphs, the dispair :
Of the cage that rose and fell : of the harsh, discordant bell :
Of the engine's throb and swell that shook the air :

Of the stripped and sweating miners at the face :
Of the sturdy ponies straining at the trace :
Of the roads that dip and bend : of the men who mind and mend :
Of the lights that blink and blend throughout the place :

Of the tubs that bang and clatter down the line :
Of the headstock and its wheels that whirr and whine :
Of the night air, crisp and sweet, that puts life into the feet
Where the night- and day- shifts meet above the mine :

Of the pay-day : of the market and the throng :
Of the fights that proved the weaker in the wrong :
Of the love of child and wife : of the stress and joy of life :
Of the hardships and the strife that made them strong.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Dank and heavy hangs the silence on the mound
Till a falling pebble splashes, and the sound
Stirs the sparrows, who arise in a tumult to the skies,
Like the wraith of all that lies there underground.

 Written by
Adam Sedgwick Barnard

Adam was born in 1868. He published a small volume entitled Ragged-staff Rhymes.   

1 comment:

Mad Old Baggage said...

Very evocative of when my 2x Great Grandparents were living in Birchills and the males were down the pit. Thank you


A. T. Page Aaminah Adam Sedgwick Barnard Al Daffern Alfred A. Cole Alfred Moss Alicia Stawicki Alison R Reed Andrew Clayton Andrew Simon Angela Garratt Annie Colenso Symons Anonymous Anzel Mahmood Arthur Brockhurst Arthur Cyril Harrison Bryan Griffin Carolyn Bayliss Catherine Gorvin Catherine Wilson Christine Beebee Clifton L Pinnock Daisy Daniel J Robertson David Calcutt Dee Howell Dennis Wright Dolores Grant Dom Donna Hill Dorothy Pattison Edward F. Joyce Elaine Taylor Elijah Stanley Elisha Slater Emily Lea Ermine Campbell Francesca Jackson Francis Paul Palmer Frank George Layton Frederic W. Willmore George Cotterell George Evans Gloria Reid Harold M. Barrows Harold Parry Herbert Bennett Hubert Deacon Harrison Ian Henery James A. Aldis Jennifer Beth Blake Jessie Lee Shannon Joan Warner Joanne Kendrick Joanne Shaw John Kilbourn John MacMillan Joseph Dixon Josey Durrant Josiah Turner Karoline Bobrowski Katie Hughes Leandra Gebrakedan M P Houslin Madeline Hindsley Manolita Margaret Lampitt Mark Bassett Martin Hughes Mary Darwall Matilda Cotterell Matthew Wells Maurice Birch Mercedes Michael Cronogue Mr Aitch Natalie Ivanova Neth Brown Oscar Roszczenko Otis Francis Paul Christopher Walton Paulina Kisiecka Peace the Poet Peter Wilkes R. M. Lockley Richard Archer Richard Leigh Richard Worrall Rio Lecointe Rob Edwards. Robert Curtis Robert Wlodarz Sharon Harlow Sir Henry John Newbolt Skiz1 Stuart Williams Supa MC Terence John Mills The Rev. A. Hampden Lee The Rev. Alexander Gordon The Rev. John H. Robison W. H. Robinson Yasmin Fatima Zebideejones

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