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Collective courage

The year was sixteen-sixty-four
A comet crossed the sky,
And Londoners looked on in fear
Convinced the end was nigh.

The streets which once were paved with gold
Were now awash with waste.
A swarm of flies and scourge of rats
Foretold the death they faced.

And so it was that London town
Was struck down with the plague,
And corpse on corpse, wife, husband,child,
Were taken to their grave.

Deep in the dales of Derbyshire
A peaceful village lay,
Until a bale of cloth arrived
That inauspicious day.

A bale of flea-infested cloth
Hung by the hearth to dry,
Which stirred the soporific fleas
And roused the plague thereby.

The tailor's poor assistant died
A death of searing pain,
And pestilence intensified
Its unrelenting reign.

As many planned to leave their homes
The vicar intervened
Declaring that instead of flight
They should be quarantined.

'Dear flock of Eyam, sacrifice
Not self must be our plan,
For once enclosed we'll suffer but
Set free our fellow man.'

Within the space of just one month
So many perished there.
The smell of sadness and of death
Ingrained the putrid air.

The years have passed,the plague long gone
But graves still tell the tale
Of how their sacrifice and strength
Meant others could prevail.


Let The Pens Flow - Narrative Poetry Contest : sponsored by Jenish Somadas


On 1 November 1666 farm worker Abraham Morten gasped his final breath - the last of 260 people to die from bubonic plague in the remote Derbyshire village of Eyam. Their fate had been sealed four months earlier when, after the onset of the plague from flea-infested cloth from London, the entire village made the remarkable decision to quarantine itself in an heroic attempt to halt the spread of the Great Plague.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2020

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Date: 2/15/2020 5:51:00 PM
wow, you did an amazing job with your narrative of this event, Wendy. Loved it. And congrats for your well deserved win in Brian's contest
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Date: 2/14/2020 9:36:00 AM
Told with flow and beauty Wendy. Am I going mad or did you also write another poem on this subject? Or did someone else? Hmm. Anyway. Hope this one gets a prize.
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Wendy Watson
Date: 2/14/2020 4:58:00 PM
Thanks so much for such an encouraging comment, Nina. Yes, I did use the same form in a very much abridged version for my 'lay' entry. In my ignorance, I hadn't heard the history of this village before someone mentioned it in passing, so off I went to research it!