Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE HILL ABOVE THE MINE, by MALCOLM COWLEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE HILL ABOVE THE MINE, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Nobody comes to the graveyard on the hill
Last Line: Your white bones drifting like herons across the moon.
Subject(s): Cemeteries; Labor & Laborers; Graveyards; Work; Workers

Nobody comes to the graveyard on the hill,
ost on the blackened slope above the mine,
where coke-oven fumes drift heavily by day
and creeping fires at night; nobody stirs
ere by the crumbling wall, where headstones loom
among the blackberry vines; nobody walks
n the blue starlight under the cedar branches
twisted and black against the moon, nor speaks
except the unquiet company of the dead,

and one who calls the roll:
"Ezekiel Cowley?"
"Laban and Uriah Evans?"
"Jasper McCullough, your three wives, your thirty
children, of whom four bastards?"
Dead, all de
"Simon Eliot? Sergeant Danny George?
Judge Peter and Sarah Ellen Farbaugh?"
sleeping under the brambles in the starlight
above the unpainted cabins and the mine.

What have you seen, O dead?
"We saw our woods
butchered, flames curling in the maple tops,
white ashes drifting, a railroad in the valley
bridging the creek, and mines under the hill.
We saw our farms lie fallow and houses grow
all summer in the flowerless meadows. Rats
all winter gnawed the last husks in the barn.
In spring the waters rose, crept through the fields
and stripped them bare of soil, while on the hill
we waited and stood firm."

Wait on, O dead!
The waters still shall rise, the hills fold in,
the tombs open to heaven, and you shall ride
eastward on a rain-wind, spurring the thunder,
your white bones drifting like herons across the moon.

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