Thursday Thoughts: John Caddy

John Caddy

John Caddy


John Caddy grew up in Hibbing and Virginia, iron mining towns on the Mesabi Range of northern Minnesota. His great-grandfather, Tom Caddy, was one of the Cornishmen who came to Upper Michigan for the copper and iron mines in the 1870s and 80s after the collapse of hard rock mining in Cornwall. 

John describes himself as “an aging poet whose spirit is more lively all the time.” He first visited the land of his roots in 1992, performed his poetry and formed close attachments that led to his being made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh.

Here is one of his poems about Cornwall and the spirit of its miners. It was published in the book With Mouths Open Wide, New and Selected Poems in the section “Presences the Blood Learns Again”.  Learn more about John at



Cornishman: a man at the bottom of a mine, singing.

They came to grass at the end of the day.
They climbed from the Dark to grass
and carried the Dark up with them.

After a long day of night with only
the head’s candle for light,
after aching hours of sledging iron
against candle-gleamed borer,

Grass was the surface they climbed to
through a thousand feet of Dark—
Over and over they pulled their weight up the rungs
as their hearts rang the ribcage,
to come up to light and grass-green,
but to carry Dark with them unseen.

Dark changed the strong men,
shortened their tempers, stubborned beliefs,
roughened their tongues—
Dark led them to think
they were the ones who could see.

But in the mine, in chapel, in pub,
Bearing this Dark is what taught them to sing.

One thought on “Thursday Thoughts: John Caddy

  1. Richard, this is a nice poem; it lets the reader feel what a miner’s day to day life was like. Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.

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