Marston Moor


On Marston Moor the rubbish grows

Beside the road, great pile on pile

And those who choked on their own blood

If they could see, would wryly smile,

If they could smile, at this New World

Which marks their death with rusty iron,

Snapped plastic, aluminium;

And those who tried to build their Zion

Or serve their King, may hear the chant

“Behold, we’re making all things new:

The bloody rout on Marston Moor

Is no concern of me or you”.

The Yorkshire soil is doing its job:

Fed deep by Scots and English blood

It brings forth cabbages and beans

Where shattered horses writhed in mud.

The moorland’s gone, the muskets too,

But over flat and docile land

A harsh wind blows and voices call

Of hopes we would not understand.

Marston Moor, just outside York, was a great and exceptionally bloody battle of the English Civil War fought in 1644 between Royalist forces and combined English Parliamentary and Scots forces, and ended in a decisive victory for the latter. Many years ago I visited the site and was disgusted to find only one old monument with a farmer’s bales of hay stacked against it and on the other side of the small road, a big rubbish tip (hence the references to snapped plastic, aluminium). This is about the battle and my reaction to the way the site had been treated. I’ve deliberately used language which would have been familiar to the soldiers, especially Parliament’s – building Zion (God’s kingdom), New World (America, but also the Bible quote about making all things new) and so on. What would they think of our world?

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