21 October 1966
Add to My Calendar

A villanelle about the Aberfan coal mining disaster, in which 144 people, including 116 school children, died when a coal mining waste tip collapsed. There was a lot of anger at the National Coal Board for its neglect of safety, and at the inquest, one father insisted, "I want it recorded – "Buried alive by the National Coal Board." That is what I want to see on the record. That is the feeling of those present. Those are the words we want to go on the certificate."

The miner insisted the coroner record
The Pantglas School building a homicide scene
They were buried alive by the National Coal Board

His heart was in bits though his shoulders were broad
Though mining was dirty, were consciences clean?
The miner insisted the coroner record

The muck, slush and water had tumbled and poured
The slurry ran black through the valley of green
They were buried alive by the National Coal Board

We all feel this way, the father implored
The mums and the dads of the hundred-sixteen
The miner insisted the coroner record

The standard of care that it did not afford
A tip in a place it should never have been
They were buried alive by the National Coal Board

Aberfan wanted some justice restored
Though justice had perished at 09:13
The miner insisted the coroner record
It was buried alive by the National Coal Board