Caliban in the Coal Mines

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Caliban in the Coal Mines was written by the American poet Louis Untermeyer (1885–1977) and published in his 1914 collection Challenge. Caliban, a leading character in Shakespeare's play The Tempest, is said to be based in the poem on real-life coal miner Few Clothes Johnson, who was portrayed in the 1987 John Sayles film Matewan by actor James Earl Jones.

Caliban in the Coal Mines

GOD, we don't like to complain;
We know that the mine is no lark.
But — there's the pools from the rain;
But — there's the cold and the dark.

God, You don't know what it is —
You, in Your well-lighted sky —
Watching the meteors whizz;
Warm, with a sun always by.

God, if You had but the moon
Stuck in Your cap for a lamp,
Even You'd tire of it soon,
Down in the dark and the damp.

Nothing but blackness above
And nothing that moves but the cars …
God, if You wish for our love,
Fling us a handful of stars!