No land as dark as theirs
who worked beneath the ground,
digging coal to fire our bellies.
They fed the furnaces for glowing metal,
gave strength to the girders
that would support the surface world
where pearls glittered next to lace
as wiser betters glided
across the polished dance floor of time.
Their war and peace was a daily struggle,
life and death entwined in eternal embrace,
now fixed and hung in the gallery of memory.
Without them, the Empire would have been a dream,
left to simmer in the minds of madmen
prophesying disaster and desolation.
Those who crossed the world to sweat in foundries
knew what lay beneath: the pain, the suffering,
the striving; the periodic bloodletting,
the human pity that goes hand in hand with grief.