Read the full poem here.

An illustration of miners in a pit. 

Contextual Information

Owen wrote this poem in half an hour, so he says, and it was published the week after he wrote it. On 12th of January there was an explosion in a coal mining pit in England. About 140 men and boys were killed in the explosion. In a letter to his mother he writes, “Wrote a poem on the Colliery Disaster: but I get mixed up with the War at the end. It is short, but oh! sour”. (Stallworthy, p25).

Owen was an amateur geologist and was quite interested in the sufferings of miners, even before he commanded many of them in the war.


  • hearth: fireplace
  • wistful: longing, yearning, in a state of melancholy
  • fawn: young deer
  • cauldron: a bit pot (imagine a pot that witches use for their spells)
  • cinder: a mostly burnt piece of wood or other material (e.g. coal)
  • shard: a broken piece of something
  • charred: burnt
  • amber: a golden mineral; the yellowy-brown colour
  • ember: a barely burning, still hot piece of wood or coal in a fire
  • crooned: sung

Guiding Questions 

  • What comparisons is Owen making between soldiers and miners?


Owen, Wilfred, and Jon Stallworthy. The War Poems of Wilfred Owen. London: Chatto & Windus, 1994. Print.