Caliban In The Coal Mines by Louis Untermeyer

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"Fling Us A Handful Of Stars!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The name Caliban significantly directs attention to that demoralized, afflicted slave in Shakespeare's The Tempest. Shakespeare's characterization of him is pertinent to Untermeyer's poem. "Caliban in the Coal Mines" is a prayerful complaint raised by coal miners who feel that God is unmindful of their lot, as He sits in His "well-lighted sky–/ Watching the meteors whizz;/ Warm with a sun always by." Speaking in a natural, informal idiom, the miners begin their complaint apologetically. "We know that the mine is no lark," they say; but conditions could certainly be better. They accuse God of not understanding the situation, and tell Him that even He could not well endure "the dark and the damp." Finally, considering the dreariness of their lives, they propose a covenant with God. They will love Him, if He will bless them. The last stanza reads:

Nothing but blackness above
And nothing that moves but the cars. . . .
God, if You wish for our love,
Fling us a handful of stars!