John Gilinsky Posted 12 January , 2011 Share Posted 12 January , 2011 "The Colliers' March" by F.W. Gray [ Nova Scotia, Canada ] They come, with muscled chests and calloused hands, Their limbs enured to toil by pick and spade; They come to swell the far-drawn gathering bands Pressing to Britain's aid. They whose stark backs shone ebon in the gleam Cast by the safety lamps' uncertain light. Their eyes illumined by the patriot's dream, Now gird them for the fight. For they have read how, when the German tramp Was heard on Belgian ground, the ruthless Hun Forced the swart miner, carrying safety lamp, By bayoneted gun, To walk before the coward host, and shield Their craven hides against the flaming ire Of freemen, who disdained their hearths to yield, And answered fire by fire. The men who drave the wedge 'twixt coal and thill, And swung the pick prone on the damp mine-floor, Shall prove in swimming trench their stength and skill, When guns are to the fore. Who daily bores the ohole and rams the shot And hears the shattering crack reverberate Through room and headway, he will falter not, To dare the Teuton hate. The weary march with gun and heavy pack, The dank and clammy trench, the long day's end, Will find the collier's toil-accustomed back Erect and last to bend. He who through flame and smoke has burst, To snatch from fiery death a comrade true, Will he not dare the mitrailleuse's worst, And "see the business through?" They come, from far and near, from East and West, From York and Lancaster, the 'Koylies'* come; Cape Breton Highlanders, Alberta's, best; Follow the sounding drum. From hills of gallant Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Natal, Lanark and Fife; From Crow's Nest Pass, and from far India, They hear the thrilling fife. The German hosts his tested arm shall know, Shall dread the collier's bayonet and shall rue In blood and anguished tears, the coward blow At Belgium, leal and true." * - Note - The nickname 'Koylies' is a play on the initials of the "King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry" and on the fact that the word "coal" is in the Yorkshire dialect pronounced "koil." the K.O.Y.L.I. is composed largely of coal miners. It will be remembered they suffered very severely at Mons. Their regimental flag bears the name of "Minden" where the regiment fought gloriously in the 18th century. Minden is about half-way between Aix-la-Chapelle and Berlin, a good augury." SOURCE of POEM and the NOTE: "The Canadian Mining Journal (Devoted to Mining, Metallurgy and Allied Industries in Canada)" Volume XXXV,Issue Nr. 23, December 1, 1914, page 779 COMMENT: This is an interesting early war Nova Scotian poem capturing the machismo and masculine identity of coal miners and their easy transference to trench warfare based soldiers. The early war imperialistic grounded super-patriotism is also evident. John Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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