Fay Slimm.



Stones Know.

Strewn over seashore hard evidence of Alquifou mining
for lead.
Trussed amid most in tufty green sward are hidden small
Forrays to deep-earthened hot-holes needed just candles
and valour.

Long wooden ladders often wankled in unstable footholds
were dangerously thin.


Down the rashling

- - -__- - - - - -
would venture in
- - - - - - - - - -
clogged foot or
- - -__- -- - -
plimsole if not
- - - - - - - -
too besmutted
- - - __- - -
by poverty.


Otherwise barefoot of course
which bettered the hold
on each cusp before
hitting rock-floor.


Meal was a pasty with tumpy top
candled to warm or freshly-baked
tattie and bacon-fat onion -wrapp
in floury packet was all some ate.

Bedaubed by black end-croust was
dropped at feet of pit- pony for crib.


No time to be lonely down there, yoiking a-plenty young
lasses wide-eyed the lads.
They laughed at a smidgen and cracked white smiles back
and forth across packs.
Trysts and tresses were forsayed, yet shorn or capped the
Bal Maidens played  for a catch.


A favovian wind meant moist homing
in shivery smicket to a tousled bothy
in fireside bathtub for swift de-slime
and a hot gruel drink afore bedtime.

Tumbling around in dawn mist, next day's shift yawned
as they fratched.


Derelict now only the stones know how  t'was but those
feathery tufts of sea-grass growing alongside some old
mine-shaft still silently catch a scent of miners' ghosts.

Alquifou = Cornish lead ore.
Yoiking = shouting in jest.
Forsayed = forbidden.
Favovian = west wind.
Smicket = a smock.
Fratch = a quarrel.

  • Author: Fay Slimm. (Offline Offline)
  • Published: May 17th, 2019 03:31
  • Category: Unclassified
  • Views: 42


  • SerenWise

    Beautiful ode to Cornish history, the language is amazing and yet again your use of archaic slang is so fitting! Very unique and elegantly written 🙂

    • Fay Slimm.

      Your comment has assured me that the use of old Cornish words is not lost to the reader and thank you for saying so Seren. - so pleased you enjoyed the read.

    • Caleb.A

      Wow... what a vivid piece - beautifully written.

      • Fay Slimm.

        Thank you Caleb. Glad the read brought you pleasure.

      • dusk arising

        Long ago my family was from StBuryan in your fair Cornwall. All around that village are those with my surname, rare elsewhere. So i am glad you explained the local words long lost to my family.

        At one time my forebears would have been in such toil as you describe, there is even a derelict mine which bears the family name.

        No Fratch about it, a good write of a colourful scene.

        • Fay Slimm.

          Well what a small world eh D.A. - - I know St. Buryan well and the folk there are so pleasant and kind..................... am delighted the read brought your forebears to life. - - - their bread was hard earned.

        • orchidee

          A fine write Fay.

          • Fay Slimm.

            Glad you enjoyed the read Orchi.

          • Suresh

            I am a product of me go metropolises, but have seen many a movies about mining (coal) towns. Your poem which was very pleasant to read, has captured the plight of the townsfolk exceptionally well.

            • Fay Slimm.

              Thank you for your kind comment on the plight of old-time miners Suresh.

            • ANGELA & BRIAN

              THANKS FAY : For caring & sharing : ANGELA HERE !
              WOW : This is a fine CORNISH IDYLL : Complete with glossary ! Lead mines long exhausted revive in POETRY ! Love the *Poetic Ladder* in V 2. very constructive ! Hazards of mining (like feet) laid
              bare : bare rations : bare clothing : Bare necessities ! Our relative prosperity is built on the Ghosts of Industry past : AMEN !

              Blessing & Love & Peace
              Yours ANGELA 🧡🧡🧡🧡

              • Fay Slimm.

                Your comments are always so enthusiastic with notes on form and style dear Angela - so pleased you got the message that the ghosts of past industry has been the backbone of our present prosperity - they and their toil deserve all the tributes.

              • Neville

                Kernow personified.. I know a thing or two about them old mine shafts too... my Grandfather was lost in one...... A delight to find this, this eve..... Neville

                • Fay Slimm.

                  How scary it must have been in old-time conditions to get lost down a mine shaft - an awful experience for your Grandfather Neville - - Kernow's mining history deserves recognition and my thanks for your kind comment on this longer than normal read. Glad you enjoyed the Cornish expressions.

                  • Neville

                    My great Grandfather was a Captain of a tin mine just your side of the river Tamar .. and yes, the experience must have been harrowing... a most enjoyable read Fay... Neville

                  • Goldfinch60

                    What a wonderful write Fay, those days of mining were so hard. Great to see local dialect in words.

                    My very first job back in the 1960s was as an analytical chemist at the Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell. Just off the site were two hostels for single people who worked there, there were over two hundred people in them, all scientists. They were from all over the country and the accents were all there, Jordie, Scouse, Glaswegian, Cockney, Welsh, Brummie etc and we could all understand each other until the time a guy from Cornwall turned up, we didn''t have a clue what he was talking about !

                  • MendedFences27

                    Must have been a harrowing if not death-defying occupation. I cannot imagine being down in a hole in the ground.
                    This is the second poem I've read today that mentions food, and now I'm growing hungry for some British grub. a pasty or a meat pie, and a pint would do just fine.
                    Oh yeah, poetry. that's why we're here. Loved your poem. Was thrown by some of the language, but you saved me at the end. How long did this mining continue? When did it stop? Liked the way you formatted this poem, breaking it as you did. I think it adds emphasis to the individual ideas you were conveying. Much enjoyed this read. _ Phil A.

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