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Blackleg Band

Camera clicks mining town - captures blacklegs marching down

To the pit as strikers’ wives - hiss and spit with eyes like knives

In this photograph displayed - treachery on vile parade

What an image what a crime - blacklegs marching to the mine


Blacklegs have a blackleg band - women who with tin-pans stand

Beat out rhythms for the damned - thud thud thud goes every hand

Would that justice could aspire - to such heights of raging ire

Rising from this female choir - burning like a funeral pyre

Wives all glare as scabs march by - frozen in the camera’s eye

With the scabs are boys in blue - dirty work for dirty crew

Women standing at the gate - bait and loudly castigate

Thunder like the crack of doom - echoes in the baleful gloom


Every robin in a cage - puts all heaven in a rage

So said Blake and this sad scene - illustrates what those words mean

Photograph is black & grey - Ryhope town of yesterday

Image with more power than pen - strikers’ wives and blackleg men


Rhyope near Sunderland.

Blacklegs being escorted by police while strikers’ wives look on.