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A cry from the heart in Aberfan

2016-10-18 13:50

A cry from the heart in Aberfan


At 9.15 am on Friday, 21 October 1966, in the colliery town of Aberfan, a hillside of colliery waste slid and covered the town and the Pantglas Junior School, killing 144 people, 116 of them schoolchildren aged between 7 and 10. Survivors remembered that they had just finished their regular school assembly, where they sang All Things Bright and Beautiful. Although rescuers found no survivors after 11 am, it would be nearly a week before they managed to recover all the bodies.

Two years later, the mother of one of the children wrote the following poem.

As we forgive them


There was a black tip above Aberfan,

Put on our green hills by the hand of man.

One day it fell upon house and school,

Pushed there by a dammed-up pool.


Now I must forgive the NCB*

For taking my child away from me,

With eyes so bright and cheeks so red.

All that is gone she’s white – she’s dead.


In their coffins, side by side,

Below ground, someone’s joy and pride.

All people in this vale of sorrow

Mourn these, for whom there’s no tomorrow.


The mothers here, who suffer loss,

Are like to Mary at the cross.

What grief for her, so meek and mild,

When she saw killed her firstborn child.


Grief, it seems, must be our lot,

Grief, at times, seems all we’ve got…

I cannot die and join her yet:

My husband needs me. My children would fret.


Maybe I’ll live in peace once more

When death and heaven opens door.

I trust I’ll feel a great Amen!

When I am with my babe again.


May God’s great wisdom shine in me

So I’ll forgive the NCB.

Then I can live in peace –

Then I will live in peace.

Forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those that trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil. Amen.



May God give eternal life to all those who died and comfort the survivors.


*NCB – National Coal Board


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