A retrospective on the tragedy of Aberfan 51 yrs ago
The world needs to know, that when the darkness comes, how black it is.
How a town like Aberfan, so small, so modest, with its peaceful tumbledown streets could
be struck by such an ghastly, catastrophic tragedy.
Aberfan, a soft and lovely name, serene in the black of a coal hewn valley, in a coal hewn
place called Wales.
They lived their lives in the shadow of the great hill of spoiled land,
they sang and went to Chapel and believed in what they had.
They knew and loved their neighbours from habit and
the comfort of a known tomorrow. They were content.
Children were the treasure of that place. Nurtured in a hard
but lovely family that spanned the town from end to end.
In the shadow of the filthy tip placed by skilled and knowledgeable men.
They trusted and cared for one another, a village of togetherness
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.
They sang, they believed. Tomorrow was to be half term,
what joy, what sweetness in the coming day;
at home, no school, just a chance to play.
And then, with the Devil, riding down the hill, the blackness came.
A monstrous surge of filthy slurry.
Half the village children, teachers and carers too
Wiped out, gone, slaughtered in a trice.
This was not a war. It was much worse, it was the sin of carelessness.
The arrogance of an ignorant establishment.
Worse still it was a sin of omission,
a sin of ‘we don’t care’; until it will always be too late.
Buried alive! Buried alive in that black filth!
A pain that’s worse than death for those who mourn.
Now we care. We weep, but we cannot take the pain away.
Fifty years have passed, and still the guilty live
Guilty because they live, because they didn’t lose,
Guilty because they couldn’t cry
Guilty because they didn’t die.
They queued to find their dead,
wrapped in blankets in the Chapel morgues
A grief unreal in its magnitude
Where each heart beat for one another.
Aberfan is torn apart,
where modest heaven has descended into hell.
Where the future is no more.
Blackened and drowned into foul oblivion.
The sepulchre of love now sits high on the hill
Where parents join their loves at last.
Memorials sweet cannot and never will,
wipe out the blackness of that dreadful day.