Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MINERS' WIVES, by EDWARD RALPH CHEYNEY

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MINERS' WIVES, by            
First Line: Miners' wives are always waiting, dreading
Last Line: But all are listening, waiting.
Alternate Author Name(s): Cheyney, Ralph
Subject(s): Mines & Miners

Miners' wives are always waiting, dreading,
Listening deep down beneath for the accident alarm.
Earth is a hard mother. Jealous, she tugs down her sons.
Ask the miners stooped over their picks, ask their wives.
The hills are her bosoms breathing peace?
Come to the mine shafts where the cages go down.
Here the earth is scarred like a woman torn in travail.
Come down where the only light trickles from your pit lamp.
You will learn the meaning of solitude, of struggle,
Know that earth is a mother who does not give but from whom you must take,
See that light comes from above but power from beneath
And the world rests on the stooped back of labor.
Though cold, miners bring warmth that is life to their fellows
While their own children clutch rags together over shivering bodies.
Tired, they fetch kernels of strength, black lamps of Aladdin,
To drive trains and ships, shuttles weaving glamorous lands together
While their own homes and lives are smudged
With the color of coal and of mourning.

Miners' wives lie awake at night worrying, hating the mines.
So many are widowed so soon...so many children soon fatherless!
Mine-bred disease, accident...and if they strike, violence.
One wife is thinking how coal came:
A tree once reached toward the clouds and drank from streams of sun
But fell to earth; now centuries of centuries later
It blooms again in flowers of flame and fruits in works of man.
Another thinks of the grave as a mine.
Many are thinking that real worth comes from the bottom up.
Others are mining other veins
While some are resenting that miners' homes cannot be kept clean...
But all are listening, waiting.

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