First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Miners

MINERS by WILFRED OWEN

There 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 fauns.

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.

And I saw white bones in the cinder-shard, Bones without number. Many the muscled bodies 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, Left in the ground.

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