The power of sinew, muscle and bone,
chipping at the flakes of the devil slate,
till the killer dust snuffed out your life.
The quota of your years; two score and seven.
Lives doused as the wax candle at the end of your shift,
extinguished by the darkness and the dust of your lungs.
Till your sons stepped up to the deadly throne,
each generation, life extinguished for the black slate.
You men who built Britain, laid to rest too soon.
In mining town churchyards, even in death,
your sinew, muscle and bone,
nourish the soil of this green and pleasant land.
Moshe Forman 2019
Note: In the 19th Century, 4,000 men worked at the Oakeley mine, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales — the world’s largest underground slate mine. Average life expectancy was 47 years.