A Threepenny Bit For Me

For more than fifty years he breathed the black dust of his trade,

His hands were hard and grimy from the digging of his spade.

A tin box for his bread and cheese, a tin flask for his tea,

He never made much money but he’d always time for me.

 

Though I never knew him very well, some things I can’t forget,

His ‘War Horse’ plug tobacco, I can smell it even yet.

And every Friday dinner time he’d call me to his knee,

Where he always had a penny and a threepenny bit for me.

 

When he was only fourteen years they told him it was time,

To leave the little village school to work in the local mine.

So he laid aside his books and slate, he put away his toys,

And one cold, grey dawn with moleskins on he became a collier boy.

 

And when the world was mad with fire, he left to join the dance,

And swapped a three foot mining seam for a mud-filled trench in France.

With his mouth set hard and straight against the madness and pain,

Till he could change his gun for a shovel and a pick, be a collier once again.

 

A quiet man in many ways, but words are cheap at best.

But what he did and how he lived spoke more than all the rest.

He took care of his business in the only way he knew,

By working till his shift was done, until the whistle blew.

 

And when his final shift was over, we were all sad for a while,

But slowly through the darkness came the mem’ry of his smile.

And I know that if we met again, somewhere across the sea,

He’ll have a penny in his pocket and a threepenny bit for me.

 

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