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Chansons américaines


The Avondale disaster

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Come all my fellow Christians,
And listen to my tale,
And as I sing, pray drop a tear
For the deaths of Avondale.

'Twas the sixteenth of September
In eighteen sixty-nine;
I never shall forget the date
Until the end of time.

One hundred and eight men
Went in the mines, as I am told,
Not thinking that before the eve
in death they would all lie cold.

They left their homes and friends so dear
That morning cheerfully
And worked along till half-past ten,
When the fire they tirst did see.

It quickly passed up through the shaft
As if propelled by fate;
'Twas then they tried to save their lives,
But, alas, it was too late!

What they then said or what they done,
No one on earth may know;
No one may know their harm,
Agony, or woe.

The breakers burned above them,
And, though their friends were brave,
'Twas madness then to try to help,
No hand but God's could save.

The news of the sad accident
The valley soon went round,
And quick their fellow miners
Came flocking to the ground.

The miners' little children,
Their darling wives likewise,
The hills around them did resound
To their sad and mournful cries.

To hear those women weeping,
And to note their sighs and moans,
It would cause your eyes to fill with tears,
If your heart was made of stone.

Saying, "Husband, dearest husband,
Indeed I am bereft,
Since you have gone from this bright world
In sorrow I am left."

And children in their innocence
As through the crowd they ran,
Saying, "Tell me, where's my father,
Why does he not come home?"

"What makes the people gather round
And mama droop her head?"
Alas, they didn't know their papa
Was numbered with the dead.

They worked along that night
And all of the next day;
The furnace like a central fire
Had all burned away.

Their friends and fellow miners
To save them they did strive;
Among them Jones and Williams
Who nobiy lost their lives.

Their bodies were all found at last,
As on the ground they lie,
All ciustered there together
In company to die.

Among them aged fathers
With children in their arms,
As if through death's cold valley
They would shield them from harm.

I never shall forget the sight
As through the shaft they came,
While weeping friends stood waiting by
Their cold remains to claim.

And as their souls ascended
To God who gave them brcath,
They plead against the company
Whose greed had caused their death.

The widow and the orphant
For sympathy we crave,
While weeping o'er their loved ones
Lying silent in their graves.

O may the Lord in pity
Never let his mercy fail;
Be a father to the orphant,
A friend to Avondale.