Aberfan Mining disaster – 1966

Published: 2021-07-01 07:36:49
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Category: Disaster, Natural Disaster

Type of paper: Essay

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At 9.15 on Friday 21 October 1966, Aberfan in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, was the centre of the world's media. A waste tip from the mine slid down the mountainside destroying a farm cottage killing all of the occupants. At Pant Glas School, the children were returning to their classrooms from morning assembly when a few of the children heard a rumbling sound coming from the valleys then they noticed an avalanche of mud hurtling towards them from the hills, and before anybody could get out, the school was underground. The school along with 20 other houses in the village were engulfed. There was total silence, so silent that you could hear a pin drop.
The disaster was so horrific that everyone wanted to do something. Hundreds of people threw their shovel into their car and drove to Aberfan to help with the rescue operation. The trained and untrained rescuers worked hard to remove the debris. The first live victim of the disaster was rescued at 11am on that day. Almost a week later, all of the bodies had been discovered.
Gaynor Minett, an eight year-old survivor in the school described the landslide as "a tremendous rumbling sound and all the school went dead you could hear a pin drop" she said that "everybody just froze in their seats".

People were so sad about the disaster that they wrote poems etc about the disaster. Reverend Dr Emlyn Davies who witnessed the disaster wrote a poem entitled 'Aberfan'. The beginning of the poem gives the image of a little "unknown village in the vale" where the children "played and sang". This image changes drastically as the poem progresses.
The poem sort of tells a story of how this village, from being peaceful, changed to being a centre of the world and a very well known village. The descriptions are very in depth and this adds to the overall effect of the poem on me.
To me, the poem has enlightened the effect of mankind on nature, this epidemic wouldn't have happened if the slag heaps weren't made. I would have never known this "secluded village".
The poem its self is well structured because each stanza is like a paragraph and contains information from each aspect of the disaster and is structured similar to a story. The use of metaphors is very effective in our understanding, "the mine became a tomb". The adjectives used "Weight immeasurable, Force irresistible, Crushing all before" are very descriptive of the force of the landslide.
The overall mood of the poem is very miserable but powerful in making us understand the consequences of human disrespect to countryside. Rev. Emlyn Davies wrote this poem to show people what really happened, he was there, he was the reverend of the church.
Mike Jenkins wrote two poems about the disaster at a much later date. He was influence to writing one of them 'He loved light freedom and animals' when he visited Aberfan. He was walking through a graveyard and he noticed one of the headstones and it read 'He loved light, freedom and animals' he was touched by the inscription and wrote a poem with the caption as the heading. The victim was very young when his life was taken.
This poem is more descriptive than a story. The first verse resembles an overview of this child who seemed to be happy, "waving an answer like a greeting". The second stanza is similar to the first. Mike Jenkins uses a literal fact "Buried alive" and imagines the little boy to be "skimming stones down the path of the sun" on the river, which would be stereotypical of a child of that time.
The use of metaphors and similes make the poem more interesting and free flowing. There is a contrast of images from the first two stanzas through to the rest; the first two are nice images of the little boy playing besides the river, but then the representation goes darker and describes this "tumour on the hillside" bursting "black blood" it sound really violent and aggressive.
The poets thoughts and feelings come into play now, he "gulp[s] back tears because of the notion of manliness" I think he placed this in his poem because he is in the graveyard, trying to paint a picture of what happened and he comes back to reality and realises that the person buried beneath him is this little boy that he is imagining.
As the poem unfolds, the descriptions get more vague. He seems to be highlighting the main features of his imagination.
The gravestone that he found hugely inspired Mike Jenkins. I think that his purpose was not to persuade people to accept his views but just to let them envisage what he felt.
The second Mike Jenkins poem is called 'Among the Debris'. It is written in a completely different style to 'He loved light freedom and animals'. He uses a local dialect, however, it is hard to understand but it adds a good effect. The first stanza tells us about a teacher who used to tell stories to the children "about is time in the navy, playin cards underwater"
The second verse reveals that the teacher wasn't in control of his emotions. It seems to me that he had been through an experience that had mentally scarred him, because "ee'd go mental, throw a wobbly".
The metaphors that Mike Jenkins uses in this poem are very effective, "is screams pick-axin into ower yer-drums" all of the references to the teacher's actions are very detailed.
After the teacher had thrown a "wobbly", he "passed a bagful o' sorries round" I feel sorry for the teacher at this point because it seems that he cannot control his actions.
The last stanza is described in-depth. It is at the part when the landslide is coming down the hill it was "a slow, unnatural thunder". When the slide had ended, the teacher "wuz searchin fer them lost children, buryin is ands in slurry" the last two lines are the best in the poem, "till ee found us, sitting among the debris" this means that the teacher had 'snapped out' of his "wobbly" and had came back to reality to the class that he was teaching.
The images in this poem are quite disturbing but are effective in describing how some people were affected by the disaster. For Mike Jenkins to write this poem, he must have been hugely saddened by the gravestone that he saw to urge him to write 'He loved light, freedom and animals' and this poem, 'Among the debris'.
If Mike Jenkins and Reverend Dr. Emlyn Davies were affected so much to write these poems, I wonder how many other people saw the destruction of the landslide and were upset for all of those children in the "unknown village in the vale" that lost their lives.

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