by: Wilfred Owen

      HERE was a whispering in my hearth,
      A sigh of the coal,
      Grown wistful of a former earth
      It might recall.
      I listened for a tale of leaves
      And smothered ferns,
      Frond-forests, and the low sly lives
      Before the fawns.
      My fire might show steam-phantoms simmer
      From Time's old cauldron,
      Before the birds made nests in summer,
      Or men had children.
      But the coals were murmuring of their mine,
      And moans down there
      Of boys that slept wry sleep, and men
      Writhing for air.
      I saw white bones in the cinder-shard,
      Bones without number.
      For many hearts with coal are charred,
      And few remember.
      I thought of all that worked dark pits
      Of war, and died
      Digging the rock where Death reputes
      Peace lies indeed:
      Comforted years will sit soft-chaired,
      In rooms of amber,
      The years will stretch their hands, well-cheered
      By our life's ember;
      The centuries will burn rich loads
      With which we groaned,
      Whose warmth shall lull their dreaming lids,
      While songs are crooned;
      But they will not dream of us poor lads
      Lost in the ground.

'Miners' is reprinted from An Anthology of Modern Verse. Ed. A. Methuen. London: Methuen & Co., 1921.




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