The Worked-Out Mine

The Worked-Out Mine  (1889) 
by Edward Dyson

On summer nights when moonbeams flow
   And glisten o'er the high, white tips,
And winds make lamentation low,
   As through the ribs of shattered ships,
And steal about the broken brace
   Where pendant timbers swing and moan,
And flitting bats give aimless chase,
   Who dares to seek the mine alone?

The shrinking bush with sable rims
   A skeleton forlorn and bowed,
With pipe-clay white about its limbs
   And at its feet a tattered shroud;
And ghostly figures lurk and groan,
   Shrill whispers sound from ghostly lips,
And ghostly footsteps start the stone
   That clatters sharply down the tips.

The engine-house is dark and still,
   The life that raged within has fled;
Like open graves the boilers chill
   That once with glowing fires were red;
Above the shaft in measured space
   A rotted rope swings to and fro,
Whilst o'er the plat and on the brace
   The silent shadows come and go.

And there below, in chambers dread
   Where darkness like a fungus clings,
Are lingering still the old mine's dead--
   Bend o'er and hear their whisperings!
Up from the blackness sobs and sighs
   Are flung with moans and muttered fears,
A low lament that never dies,
   And ceaseless sound of falling tears.

My ears intent have heard their grief--
   The fitful tones of Carter's tongue,
The strong man crushed beneath the reef,
   The groans of Panton, Praer and Young,
And 'Trucker Bill' of Number Five,
   Along the ruined workings roll;
For deep in every shoot and drive
   This mine secretes a shackled soul.

Ah! woeful mine, where wives have wept,
   And mothers prayed in anxious pain,
And long, distracting vigil kept,
   You yawn for victims now in vain!
Still to that god, whose shrine you were,
   Is homage done in wild device;
Men hate you as the sepulchre
   That stores their bloody sacrifice.

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired. According to Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright, the following works are public domain:

  • published non-government works whose author died before January 1, 1955,
  • anonymous or pseudonymous works and photographs published before January 1, 1955, and
  • government works published before January 1, 1972

This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States (and not published in the U.S. within 30 days), and it was first published before 1989 without complying with U.S. copyright formalities (renewal and/or copyright notice) and it was in the public domain in Australia on the URAA date (January 1, 1996). This is the combined effect of Australia having joined the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996. Because the Australian copyright term in 1996 was 50 years, the critical date for copyright in the United States is January 1, 1946.


This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.


The author died in 1931, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 90 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.