“Mine” or “O Mine Papa”

Here’s my attempt at a mining folk song.

Mine (or O Mine Papa)                                                                        

When pithead wheels still turned each shift

to drop the cage and then to lift

the colliers from their daily graft,

a mile deep buried down a shaft,

each man was 50 years condemned,

with two short weeks to rest and mend.

 

Chorus:

Repose and convalesce from earning

for the sunlight daily yearning.

Digging coal required no learning,

back when the nation’s home fires burned

and our satanic mill wheels turned

before our mining jobs were spurned.

 

Both my granddads, dad and brother,

all the family save our Mother,

uncles and cousins, neighbours too,

they shovelled coal the whole day through

or all the afternoon or night,

lit by a headlamp’s ray of light.

 

Chorus:

Repose and convalesce from earning

for the sunlight daily yearning etc.

 

Their lungs were clogged up with coal dust.

They sweated cobs and swore and cussed.

Back up on top, they’d wash t’muck off

and smoke a Woodbine, hack and cough,

and breathe the air, so fresh, so sweet

and feel the grass beneath their feet.

 

Chorus:

Repose and convalesce from earning

for the sunlight daily yearning etc.

 

Our sweat shone black for old King Coal.

He had us body, mind and soul,

but for our kids we wanted better.

Education could unfetter.

Down the pit they won’t belong,

just sing about our lives in song.

 

Chorus:

Repose and convalesce from earning

for the sunlight daily yearning.

Digging coal required no learning,

back when the nation’s home fires burned

and our satanic mill wheels turned

before our mining jobs were spurned.

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6 comments

  1. STEPHEN JOSEPH · June 3

    Wonderful lyrics….except the line ‘Digging coal required no learning’ may earn you a black eye from those who had to ‘learn’ their trade/craft from their elders. Your peers will understand the unwritten thought of ‘no book learning’ academic training…🌹

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  2. doggerelbanksy · June 3

    Thanks, Ann-Marie. You’re spot on with what I was implying. I’ll see if I can re-work it seamlessly (!). Perhaps, “Digging for coal needs no book learning” or “Dig for coal needs no book learning” or “then dig more coal without book learning”. Decisions, decisions. Phil

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  3. mph26 · June 3

    Now it just needs the tune, Phil!

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  4. teacherspet1 · June 3

    Well done. No one remembers how tough this life really was. I can still see the blue/ black healed scars n my uncle’s arms and back, where he had been hurt below ground and the wounds coated in Coal dust. I was evacuated/ rehoused during the war to a newish semi situated between two working slag heaps. My mother spent her life fighting SMUTS. Lv Margaret

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  5. vivbetts · June 3

    All the men in my family except for my dad, his dad didn’t want him to go through what he had gone through, worked down the mines In this poem, cleverly written, you can image what the men went through to keep us by a warm fire but many suffered ill health because of the dust they inhaled. Well done Phil, loved it.

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  6. bunnymanzimbo · June 3

    Brilliant Phil, love it mate.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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