‘Incessant toil and hands innumerable’: Mining and Poetry in the Northeast of England

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In this essay, Keegan begins with a broad discussion of the representation of miners and mining in British poetry prior to 1900. She then offers an overview of poetry written specifically by miners. The essay focuses on two poets, both lead miners in the northeast of England in the second half of the nineteenth century, and both of whose works speak to the cultural and economic impact of rural diaspora. For Thomas Blackah (1828–95) and Richard Watson (1833–91), their unique poetic identities are bound up in their particular dale with its particular dialect. While any poet’s intentions in writing are many, both clearly see poetry as preserving and affirming declining communities and celebrating and conserving the natural environment that is a defining feature of that community. Their poetry highlights the distinctive language and the natural environment of their native northeastern regions, and these elements define how they conceive of themselves as artists. Blackah’s and Watson’s poetry depicts a rootedness in the landscape that exists in tension with the displacements caused by changing industrial and economic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-201
Number of pages25
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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