The heroine tells of her life as a child labour in coal mines and refers to the dangers posed by steam locomotives.
My names Polly Parker, I'm come o'er from Worsley, [Note 504.1]
My father and mother work in the coal mine:
Our family's large, we have got seven children,
So I am obliged to work in a mine.
And as this is my fortune, I know you'll feel sorry,
That in such employment my days they should pass; [Note 504.2]
But I keep up my spirits, I sing and look merry,
Although I am nought but a collier lass.
By the greatest of danger, each day I'm surrounded
I hang in the air by a rope or a chain [Note 504.3]
The mine may fall in, I may be killed or wounded
May parish by damp(1) or the fire of a train [Note 504.4]
And what would you do were it not for our labour
In wretched starvation your days you would pass
While we could provide you with life's greatest blessings
Oh do not despise the poor collier lass.
All the day long you may see we are buried,
Deprived of the light and the warmth of the sun,
And often at night from our beds we are hurried,
The water is in, and barefoot we run.
Although we are ragged and black are our faces,
As kind and as free as the best we are found;
Our hearts are as white as your lords in high places
Although we're poor colliers that work under ground.
I am growing up fast, and somehow or other,
There's a collier lad strangely runs in my mind
And in spite of the talking of father and mother,
I think I should marry if he was inclin'd;
But should he prove surly and will not befriend me
Perhaps a better chance will come to pass
And my heart I know, will to him recommend me,
And I will no longer be a collier lass.