The Rapper Up Man

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Poems about Miners

“The Rapper Up Man”

The Rapper Up Man

In days gone by in the miner’s rows,
there lived a man who always rose,
at an early hour from slumber deep,
to waken miners from their sleep,
by rapping on the window pane,
no matter the weather, wind or rain,
be it Wullie, Mick or Dan,
he was always known as the Rapper-up-man.

Now Dixon’s Rows had such a man,
but never called him Rapper-up-man
not for them this common name,
they had someone of greater fame,
the Sheriff was by reputation,
their choice to waken up the nation,
to this grand title he had the honour,
of being the biggerst ‘Polis informer’.

Tis said that when he was but eleven,
went down the pit to earn a living,
into the darkness of the mine,
in the cage he was heard to whine,
‘Faither dear, please take me hame,
ah don’t want to go doon again,
it’s nae place fur beast nor man,
ah’d raither be a Rapper-up-man.

Dressed like the collier he longed to be,
moleskin trousers tied at the knee,
eight piece bunnet, auld tweed coat,
muffler tied in a hot pea knot,
in Tackety boots he would stray,
the light from his lantern showing the way,
round the 400 Colliers houses,
where he knew the names of all the Spouses!

Rapping the window you’d hear him cry,
‘wake up Wifie the time is nigh,
so get yer men up now,
if they want to be oan the very first tow,
fur if they don’t, ah’m no tae blame,
if they be late an’ ur sent back hame,
ah dae ma job the best ah can,
fur ah’m the Sheriff, the Rapper-up-man.

Then one dark October morn,
Blantyre and the Sheriff heard the pit horn,
blasting out loud time after time,
a signal of trouble down in the mine.
Leaping out of bed into his clothes,
he made his way down thru’ the rows,
with hundreds of others ran to the pithead,
to hear that 216 colliers were dead.

With tears in his eyes he heard the roll call,
and uttered a silent prayer for all,
to any God who would listen to him,
who could be heard above the din,
of the wailing voices of mining folk,
crying because their hearts were broke,
the pain and the suffering he’d remember,
etched in his mind forever and ever.

The shout went up for volunteers,
and the Sheriff seemed to have lost his fear,
his hand went up as fast as the others,
amid’st this band of Collier brothers,
they’re a funny crowd this Collier breed,
who risk their lives for ‘neebors’ in need,
with plight of others in their mind,
every man volunteered, to go down the mine.

That day changed Blantyre for everyone,
when it brought trouble to every door,
in every house that you passed by,
you were sure to hear the woeful cry,
of womenfolk in their But and Ben,
mourning for the souls of their poor men,
those men and boys who would never come hame,
back to the Raws ever again.

That day the Sheriff became a man,
with father’s pick and shovel in hand,
he worked hard beside the others,
to try and save their Collier brothers,
‘not fit for beast nor man’ he said,
‘true colliers are born they cannot be made’.
This day will live in the hearts of all,
for men who go down to dig for coal.

James Cornfield 2003

Painting by Albert Houthuesen, Dutch/British 1903-1979 – Miner smoking a pipe

Your Comments:

Margaret Hill: My clever uncle James

Blantyre’s Ain: My friend and Mentor Margaret…

Margaret Hill: He was a wonderful man to have as a mentor I was lucky to have him as my uncle just.

Blantyre’s Ain: He is a sad loss not only to his family and friends but to Blantyre as a whole.

Tom McGuigan: Great poem, My Dad always called the clock a knock.

Jean Jakes: Felt like I was there with them X.

Frank Holford: Brilliant Poem xxx

Tom McGuigan: I worked at the Booking Office at Haymarket station and we had an electric clock above the office. One day it never changed when the clock went forward and everyone who came in told us . As you can imagine it got a bit tiresome after a while. I put up a sign that read “Ignore the Knock,we know it’s broke”. I spent the day reeling off why the clock was called a knock.

Graham Jones: Love all these poems. Have they been published in a book?

Eleanor Duncan Nailon: Beautiful poem ??????


If you have any Poems… Send them to Bill

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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