Lush with a thousand shades of green,

a valley ploughed from the garden

of God’s earth.

Silent hills

that speak through the minds of dreamers,

and the silent wind

echoing sounds of the past.

 

Weathered with time

like grooves set in faces of old men;

once Mam’s boys

proud to work at their fathers’ side.

Fathers and sons toiled together

in the bowels of the earth,

tearing out the heart of the valley –

digging for coal.

 

Our valley darkened with a thousand

shades of blackness,

and the hills veiled

in a delicate cloak of black silk.

Chimney stacks towering above pit heads

defying the law of gravity.

Clouds of steam billowing upward,

to be thrust downward by the sky,

repulsing its impurities.

 

Mounds of coal growing out of the valley floor 

like cancers on the landscape.

Sounds of trams crashing against trams,

and machinery groaning with exhaustion.

Sounds of men coughing and spitting,

gasping through dust embedded lungs.

Men’s sun starved faces as white as mother’s milk,

blackened with coal dust.

Young boys were old men,

and old men were worn out.

 

The silent wind echoing sounds of the past.

Silent hills

that speak through the minds of dreamers.

Lush with a thousand shades of green,

a valley ploughed from the garden

of God’s earth.

 

Rowland Hughes ©