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The Roses Of Eyam

This song is by Beau and appears on the album Beau (1969) and on the album Twelve Strings To The Beau (2013).

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The earth beneath the surface dust
Is cold and damp and raw
And, holding but the memories
Of what has gone before,
Can almost be forgiven
For remembering the dream
Of the wall of stones around the homes
Of the villagers of Eyam,
Of the villagers of Eyam.

In August sixteen-sixty-five
Along the cobbled roads,
Between the houses dark and high,
The carriers with their loads
Were leaving for the northern towns
The capital and crown,
And also leaving far behind
The plague of London town,
The plague of London town.

George Vicars was the tailor
To the village life of Eyam,
And to his house a case of clothes
From London town was seen
To be delivered one fine day
In September 'sixty-five,
And never more was tailor Vicars
Ever seen alive,
Ever seen alive.

The scars upon his face and chest
Were many to behold
And, lying by the fevered body
Now so very cold,
The case from London opened wide,
The clothes all neatly hung,
And from the bell upon the church
The knell of death was rung,
The knell of death was rung.

There followed sixty, scarred and bleeding,
Buried in their graves
As Thomas Stanley stood above
And told them "Jesus Saves".
But Stanley was a puritan,
An enemy to heed
To Mompesson (the Anglican
Who held the rectors creed,
Who held the rectors creed).

The differences between the men
That were so very wide
Were shattered by the desperate need
And rudely cast aside.
The forces of the two were joined.
Their words were not in vain.
They told the villagers of Eyam,
"The plague must be contained,
The plague must be contained".

The simple people took their word,
Agreed to stay and die.
They built a wall around the hamlet,
Not so very high,
But high enough that they should know
That though it mean their lives,
The plague must stay behind the wall
With children, friends and wives,
With children, friends and wives.

For six long months the wall did stand
And honest to their word,
The families died. The Friths and Sydalls
Never more were heard.
The Thornleys, Hancocks, and the Torres,
All buried in the ground.
The Coopers and the Vicars
Never made another sound,
Never made another sound.

The dawn that rang the final bell
Left thirty-three alive
From three-hundred-and-fifty
In September 'sixty-five.
The villagers rebuilt their lives
With those who still remained.
The name of Eyam can still be seen;
The plague had been contained,
The plague had been contained,
The plague had been contained,
The plague had been contained...

Written by:

C J T Midgley

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