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GUEST,Chris Lamb Lyr Add: Trimdon Grange Explosion (39) RE: Lyr Add: Trimdon Grange Explosion 02 Mar 14


It may be of interest that Lou Killen's version of Trimdon Grange Explosion was almost certainly the inspiration for Philip Larkin's well-known poem 'The Explosion'. It appears as the last poem in Larkin's final volume of poems, 'High Windows' (1974).

Although Larkin was famously a jazz lover, he did possess the album 'Along the Coaly Tyne' and chose one track from it, 'Dollia', sung by Lou Killen, as one of his Desert Island Discs in 1976. So he would certainly have heard and probably remembered Killen's singing of Trimdon Grange Explosion when he came to write his poem in 1970. Of course, Larkin's images depict the tragic event in his own way, but reflect some of the sentiments expressed in the song, e.g. 'The dead go on before us ... we shall meet them face to face'.

The Explosion, by Philip Larkin

On the day of the explosion
Shadows pointed towards the pithead:
In the sun the slagheap slept.

Down the lane came men in pitboots
Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke,
Shouldering off the freshened silence.

One chased after rabbits; lost them;
Came back with a nest of lark's eggs;
Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.

So they passed in beards and moleskins,
Fathers, brothers, nicknames, laughter,
Through the tall gates standing open.

At noon, there came a tremor; cows
Stopped chewing for a second; sun,
Scarfed as in a heat-haze, dimmed.

The dead go on before us, they
Are sitting in God's house in comfort,
We shall see them face to face -

Plain as lettering in the chapels
It was said, and for a second
Wives saw men of the explosion

Larger than in life they managed -
Gold as on a coin, or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them,

One showing the eggs unbroken.


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