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Social Protest Lit.: Paint Creek Miner “‘Gunmen’ in West Virginia”

Posted on the 13 May 2015 by Paul Phillips @sparkingtheleft

index“‘Gunmen in West Virginia” by an anonymous Paint Creek Miner written during the terrible strike of 1911-1912. This is one of my favorites in the “Social Protest Lit.” series. This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

The hills are very bare and cold and lonely;

I wonder what the future months will bring.

The strike is on-our strength would win, if only–

O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

They’ve got us down-their martial line enfolds us;

They’ve thrown us out to feel the winter’s sting.

And yet, by God, those curs can never hold us,

Nor could the dogs of hell do such a thing!

It isn’t just to see the hills beside me

Grow fresh and green with every growing thing’

I only want the leaves to come and hide me,

To cover up my vengeful wandering.

I will not watch the floating clouds that hover

Above the birds that warble on the wing;

I want to use this GUN from under cover–

O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

You see them there, below, the damned scab-herders!

Those puppets on the greedy Owners’ String;

We’ll make them pay for all their dirty murders–

We’ll show them how a starveling’s hate can sting!

They riddled us with volley after volley;

We heard their speeding bullets zip and ring,

But soon we’ll make them suffer for their folly–

O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

//


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