Union Songs

Blood on the Coal

A Poem by Jock Graham©1946 Jock Graham

- [play]

You've learned to know the miner—the 'black' man, the 'slack' man.
But come with me below ground and amid the sweat and stress,
And watch him at his hard work, his drill work, his skilled work,
See for yourself his true life before you read your press.

Come down and breathe the dank air, the foul air, the rank air;
Fill up your lungs with coal dust, disease dust, for proof;
Come down and see the 'slave' man, the cave man, the brave man
Risk life to save his mate's life beneath a falling roof.

Learn of the grim disasters, the churned up. the burned up:
Go seek the mining churchyards and count the growing roll;
Weigh justice then, so feted, so treated, and meted
Against the dark stain spreading, the blood upon the coal.

You'll see conditions slipping, through tricking, pin-pricking;
The guilt with which he's burdened you'll place where it belongs;
And you will be a just man, a fair man, a rare man,
If you'll raise coal production by righting miners' wrongs.


From Jock Graham's 1946 book of poems and songs 'Blood on the Coal'. Jock was a miner, organiser for the Miners' Federation and the 'Miners' Poet'. The poem is read by Lewis Fitzgerald and taken from the CD 'Working for Coal' which was produced for ABC Radio National's Hindsight Program and broadcast in 2002 See review with soundclips at http://unionsong.com/reviews/miners/ in this collection

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