Pit Poetry from Poets at Darfield Museum
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Pit Poetry from Poets at Darfield Museum

Poems for National Coal Mining Museum for England from Poets at Darfield Museum



We wrote a group sonnet about a mining disaster. I like writing poems with a group because they’re a collective endeavour just like mining is.

I wandered past the unturning pit wheel

Where my dad worked his shift hewing coal out

While mam was at home and the babby squealed

And grandad came in all tanked up with stout.

I remember that day the sirens sang,

Over the rooftops and round Tommy’s tomb.

We all went white when the coal-owner rang;

Mam grabbed her coat, ran out of the room.

The crowds on the street prepared for their grief;

The stillness took up the breath of the moon,

The audible silence beyond belief,

The brass band’s rehearsal lost every tune.

Then dad stepped out to my mother in tears:

Stuck in my mind though pit’s been shut for years.



We wrote these poems individually, using the Japanese haiku form of three lines with the first line having five syllables, the second line seven syllables and the third line five syllables. The haiku are written from the point of view of the coal.


Once warming, now redundant

Windmills now turning


Petrified forest

Darkening years underground

Black as a raven


From the depths of earth

Once safe in mother’s keeping

Now replaced by wind


When I start to burn

An old forest is falling

Into time’s long fire


King Coal was my name

Keeping you warm all these years

No longer wanted


Heavy my blackness

Heaved up by filthy pitmen

To line silk pockets


A hundredweight bag

Stuck on the back of a truck

Is my home for now