Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
The Miner’s Tale

By May Beals

(Contemporary American writer and lecturer. A tragedy at Coal Creek, Tennessee, May 19, 1902)
THE LORD of us he lay in his bed—
  Good right had he, good right!
But we were up before night had fled,
Out to the mine in the dawning red;
Slaves were we all, by hunger led        5
  Into the land of night.
The master knew of our danger well,
  We also knew—we knew.
His greed for profits had served him well,
But he over-reached him, as fate befell,        10
And I alone am left to tell,
  Death’s horrors I lived through
The master dreamed, mayhap, of his gold,
  But we were awake—awake,
Buried alive in the black earth’s mold;        15
And some who yet could a pencil hold,
Wrote till their hands in death grew cold,
  For wife or sweetheart’s sake.
Letters they wrote of farewell—farewell,
  To mother, sweetheart, wife:        20
What words of comfort could they tell—
Comfort for those who loved them well,
Up from the jaws of the earth’s black hell
  That was crushing out their life.
The master cursed, as masters do—        25
  Good right had he, good right!
But the fear of our vengeance stirred him, too;
He sailed, with some of his pirate crew,
To Europe, and reveled a year or two;
  Great might has he—great might!        30

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