Union Songs

Spello, Spell

A poem by Merv Lilley©Merv Lilley 1963

Palefaced workers of the deep,
Wash yourselves and go to sleep.
When again you have arisen,
On with gear and to your prison.
Down the fiddley, check the gauge,
A firing robot knows no age
Gleaming body, cobs of coal,
Bottom of hell is the stokehole.

Rip out fires, gasp for air,
Rising steam is everywhere
Where the water hits the ash
Smoke and steam upwards dash.
Lean far back on the rake
Lest your face should burn and bake
Quickly pitch your clean fires,
Go ahead as gauge requires.

Mighty cobs your hammer smashes,
Grab a barrow, dump the ashes,
Pitch again to the crown,
Sweep the plates and wash 'em down
Up on deck with bursting lungs,
Overhot those fiddley rungs.
Wonder if she's on the make?
Down again and use the rake.
Work for years, long and well,
Then nature calls, "SPELLO, SPELL . .


Many thanks to Merv Lilley for permission to add this poem to the Union Songs collection. It was published in What About The People a collection of poems by Dorothy Hewett and Merv Lilley published by the National Council of the Realist Writers in 1963

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