Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Monday, 28 June 2010 15:49 UK
National poet's Six Bells tribute
Gillian Clarke

The national poet of Wales has added her tribute to commemorations of the 50th anniversary of a mining disaster near Abertillery.

Forty five men died in a gas explosion at the Six Bells pit on 28 June 1960.

Gillian Clarke said she remembered how the disaster had resonated with those living in Welsh mining communities.

"I remember this terrible thing had happened and yet great horrible accidents like that didn't happen any more," she said.

She told Roy Noble of BBC Radio Wales that she thought about the human aspect, the people going about their everyday lives when the tragedy happened.

"I thought about the town ... probably a lovely day, probably with the sun shining, probably it was lovely ... and suddenly a change.

"How would they hear it - some sort of deep down thump before the news came to the top of the pit?"

Ms Clarke added that her late father-in-law had recently retired from a mines rescue team at the time of the disaster and was deeply affected.

Six Bells - 28th June 1960 - by Gillian Clarke

Perhaps a woman hanging out the wash
paused, hearing something, a sudden hush,
a pulse inside the earth like a blow to the heart,
holding in her arms the wet weight
of her wedding sheets, his shirts. Perhaps
heads lifted from the work of scrubbing steps,
hands stilled from wringing rainbows onto slate,
while below the town, deep in the pit
a rock-fall struck a spark from steel, and fired
the void, punched through the mine a fist
of blazing firedamp. As they died,
perhaps a silence, before sirens cried,
before the people gathered in the street,
before she'd finished hanging out her sheets.

Statue to remember mine disaster
28 Jun 10 |  History
Remembering the Six Bells disaster
28 Jun 10 |  History
Six Bells: Roy Jenkins remembers
25 Jun 10 |  History


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