Syndic No. 21 Cover / Theme: Social Justice ∼ Social Injustice
Syndic Literary Journal

Social Injustice ~ “Song of the Anthracite Coal Miner” by John Kearns

Song of the Anthracite Coal Miner

By John Kearns

From the play, Sons of Molly Maguire

“Ní thuigeann an seach an seang.”
The well fed doesn’t understand the hungry.
— Irish proverb

Sit a rich man next to a beggar
And he’ll ever be blind to his pain.
The landlord he knocked down our homes
For to buy another case of champagne.

’Twas hunger that drove me away from me land
To rock on the raging sea.
Now the same master drives me down under the ground
Where only the damned used to be.

So, each morning at dawn, the helmet goes on
And I go down to the mines.
The sun it still sets. It simply forgets
Us lads who ne’er see it shine.

The turf back at home you can break in your hands.
Its aroma’s like something to eat.
Down in steerage it remained for weeks on my clothes
And kept the loss of my land incomplete.
I got a job mining the hardest of all,
The black stone of anthracite coal.
Great heat and pressure create coal from turf
And likewise can harden the soul.

So, each morning at dawn, the helmet goes on
And I go down to the mines.
The sun it still sets. It simply forgets
Us lads who ne’er see it shine.

The hills of Pennsylvania
So they often tell me
Are the sisters of Erin’s
And as lovely to see.
They climb and they dive
Like the hills back at home
So green is their grass
And so grey are their stones!
But to me they are nothing.
For, like the roots of a tree,

I dig down in the earth
And set anthracite free.

This coal’s near as valued as diamonds
And feeds the machines of their wars.

The whistle of their locomotives
Is the monster a-cryin’ for more.

The coal dust it parches our noses and throats
Making even us Gaels wish for rain.
In the dark pits we dream of soft days
And cool air, and the digging of turf once again.

So, each morning at dawn, the helmet goes on
And I go down to the mines.
The sun it still sets. It simply forgets
Us lads who ne’er see it shine.

The rich man he has a fine house
And clothing and jewelry galore
But the bounty of suffering and hardship
Is held in trust by the poor.

The landlord he knocked down our homes
For to buy another case of champagne.
Sit a rich man next to a beggar
And he’ll ever be blind to his pain.

So each morning at dawn, the helmet goes on
And I go down to the mines.
The sun it still sets. It simply forgets
Us lads who ne’er see it shine.

 

Narration by John Kearns

 

 

 

 

 

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Syndic No. 21
July 2019
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