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30th anniversary of the miners' strike

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the epic miners’ strike of 1984/5. Here’s a poem written during the strike by International Brigader James Jump (1916-1990), in which he remembers George Jackson, a Cowdenbeath miner who was killed on 19 August, aged 28, during the Battle of the Ebro. The poem was first published in 1984 by the National Union of Mineworkers in a posthumous collection of poems titled ‘Against All Odds’. Jump translated the poem himself and both versions appeared in an anthology of his poems in English and Spanish, ‘Poems of War and Peace’ / ‘Poemas de guerra y de paz’ (Logroño: Piedra de Rayo, 2007). Copies of the book (£12.50 including p&p) can be purchased via the IBMT.

 

 

 

Miners’ Strike

 

I was close behind you, Geordie,

when a fascist bullet ended your short, hard life –

a life blackened at the coal face.

From that moment, Cowdenbeath and Corbera

were twinned towns,

Scotland and Spain linked by ties of blood,

the blood rich and red

that you shed

high on a parched mountain range.

 

If you were alive today, Geordie,

I know where you would be,

for you were always a front-line fighter.

Not for you the snug safety of the rear;

Maybe I would have seen you on TV

in the line of fire

being clubbed by a mounted policeman

or dragged, arms twisted, to a waiting black maria.

Maybe I would have seen you lying dead,

not outside Corbera where you were hit

by a bullet in the head,

but outside the gates of a strike-shut pit.

 

I was close behind you in Spain, Geordie,

and now I am behind your comrades

fighting freedom’s battle over again,

carrying on the same fight we fought in Spain.

 

 

 

Huelga de mineros

 

Yo estaba muy cerca detrás de ti, Geordie,

cuando una bala fascista puso fin a tu corta vida

una vida herida y ennegracida cuando trabajabas en la galería

Desde entonces Cowdenbeath y Corbera son ciudades hermanas

Escocia y España están unidas con lazos de sangre,

la sangre roja y rica

que tú derramaste

en lo alto de una árida montaña.

 

Si tú vivieras ahora, Geordie,

sé donde te encontrarías

pues fuiste siempre un luchador de primera línea.

La cómoda seguridad de la retaguardia no era para ti;

tampoco te quedabas atrás cuando otros avanzaban

ni vacilabas, ni sentías la duda que engendra el miedo.

Tal vez te hubiera visto en la pequeña pantalla

en primera línea de fuego

aporreado por un policía a caballo

o arrastrado con los brazos retorcidos hasta el furgón celular

Quizás también te hubiera visto tumbado muerto

no cerca de Corbera, donde fuiste herido

por una bala fascista,

sino en el exterior de una mina cerrada por la huelga.

 

Yo estaba cerca de ti en España, Geordie,

y ahora estoy con tus compañeros,

luchando de nuevo por la libertad,

 siguiendo la misma guerra que empezamos en España.