Writer and Performer of Poetry
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This poem was commissioned for a Colchester book project called 'Without Walls', published to raise funds to help the town's homeless, which took the form of a collection of writing about Colchester's historic landmarks. This poem is about the church of St Mary at the Walls, now Colchester Arts Centre. There is a legend that the church was the historic site, during the 1648 siege of Colchester in the English Civil War, of the Humpty Dumpty (a cannon, not an egg!). The church was heavily damaged by Parliamentarian artillery fire during the siege, but rebuilt in the Victorian era.
St. Mary at the Walls
It was a time when everyone lost their heads:
brother rose against brother, sister spited sister,
gaudy Royalist confronted Cromwellian,
a nation collectively stopped up its ears
and more poison was printed than there was stomach to contain it;
Lords and labourers, blacksmiths and princes all were ploughed
into her fields as the scythe of the Leveller mowed across England.
July 1648, I was pressed into service for this fight,
my sanctuary filled with the materiel of war,
a choir of cannon sang from my walls,
and every man prayed to his God.
Colchester, siege town, the rebels’ last resort, put on a warrior’s coat,
a hard rain fell across its rooftops and eighteen and thirty-two pounders
crashed like devils, divided men from their souls, made martyrs of us all.
So look up, look heavenwards, strain your neck
as you look at mine encircled by a ragged scar,
my war wound dressed with brick, red as blood,
my crown restored, crafted with a Victorian’s eye.
Come into my hallowed halls now filled with laughter, music and song,
imagine a world better than the one outside my doors, where creativity
beats war and everyone is welcome to join the congregation.
UPCOMING EVENTS 2020
Festival of Suffolk Poetry, Stowmarket