The Light

By Alanna Fox, 2nd year.

Object No. 90 Lamp from 'River Clyde', 1915
National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History

It was the only light amongst all the darkness,

It was our only sign of hope,

It gave us something to look forward to,

The only thing not engulfed by the smoke.

 

We wished for the time around it,

We wished that it would never change,

We didn’t realise what faith had in store for us,

The truth was beyond my range.

 

Working on that dreaded ship,

I was only five at the time,

Even I realised that dragging coal,

Was far better than working in the mine.

 

We slaved on that boat for weeks on end,

Some days were as dark as night,

The young mixed with the old, Yet,

No one knew how to read or write.

 

We were beaten by our masters,

And used as chimney sweeps,

Forced to haul coal from place to place,

We hardly ever got the chance to sleep.

 

We thought that things would get better,

Better when we got older,

We didn’t know back then what we know now,

That our masters only got crueller and colder.

 

But that faithful night,

When I laid down to rest,

I didn’t realise that when I rose,

Our hope would have been replaced.

 

Now we know that light is just a myth,

No matter how many oil lamps a person may own,

These are dark times,

No matter how many bonds are sown.

Now that all the oil has run out,

And in darkness left are we,

We now realise what is happening,

Only the wealthy have the right to see.

 

Our hope was our light, but the oil has gone,

I as a child was not afraid of the darkness,

But what the darkness did contain,

That no one could hear my shouts.

 

We the slaves and the people,

We all hope that one day,

The light that it will return,

And forever it will stay.

 

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