Westray Lament, The



They said it was a good thing t’do,
To go down the mine in ninety-two.
To cut the coal’s a good thing t’do-
And twenty-six miners died.

Inside the Westray mine lies disaster,
Coal dust an’methane wait there t’blow;
Friends, brothers, husbands go down t’gether,
Fear grips their hearts when they’re b’low.

One Friday night the miners descended
Into the coal mine two miles down:
They’d felt the last of sunshine’s caresses,
They’d heard the last of love’s sweet sounds.

Deep in the mine the coal gas is workin’,
Hissin’ an’ sizzlin’ inside the veins;
Men are destroyed where they stand a-workin’
Others are killed where they had lain.*

Twenty-six friends, brothers an’ husbands
Lie in the Westray shattered an’ torn;
Fifteen the draegermen haul to the surface,
Ten an’ another stay unfound.

Inside the Westray mine lie eleven,
Quiet an’ still like the darkness within;
Flood all the tunnels to make it safe! but
Eleven men ask: “What? Again?”

Now that the Westray mine is a-flooded,
No one can see the bad errors made;
Evidence gone an’ no answers given-
Buried where eleven laid.

Twenty-six ghosts from inside the Westray
Say to the bosses who decide:
“You didn’t listen to our warnin’s,
Loved ones’re alone now that we’ve died.”

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