Love in the Time of the Plague

The tragic love story of a young couple in the village of Eyam, hit by the plague in 1665.

After a tailor received a consignment of cloth
Eyam’s folk thought they’d incurred God’s wrath.
As the plague raged within, all the villages around
were in grave danger. A resolution had to be found.
A strict quarantine was the one they proposed
when all the points of access were to be closed
with a boundary line that no one should cross
in order to avoid an inevitable, calamitous, loss.

Just a short stretch of water kept two lovers apart
and wistful sighs passed between the sweethearts
who’d meet secretly, one on each side of the stream,
at Cucklet Delph, in the hope of fulfilling their dream.
As the tension grew, the couple suffered from strain.
Having plighted his troth, Rowland waited in vain
for the vicar to bless his union to Emmott:
the outbreak being severe, they could not tie the knot.

Young Rowland Torre would have given his all
to be wed right away to the beautiful Emmy Syddall.
He was greatly distraught and had felt a cold shiver
when she had suddenly failed to appear at the river.
The deadly disease that had caused so much grief
subsided one year later to people’s immense relief.
Among the survivors, the boy looked for her face
but, alas, of the lass there was no visible trace.

He soon learnt the truth; was told she had died
and rued that she wouldn’t become his bride.
He was broken-hearted but he had to be brave
as he went in search of his dead fiancé’s grave.
He discovered her name inscribed on a cross;
with tears in his eyes, he lamented his loss.
Not having been able to make her his wife,
he remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.

© Luigi Pagano 2017


© ionicus 2023
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If the church St Lawrence did nothing else, it inspired your pen to mirror the stained glass. Have you ever wondered if it is true that our live’s may be gauged by being remembered? You won’t be forgotten guvnor, as will not Rowland and Emmy. The latter even more so from the skill of your art.


Hi Luigi,
What a sad tale, one of thousands no doubt, in that terrible time. I love the image posted too. Yes, we know poetry should stand on its own merits and this one certainly does…but I do think a cafefully chosen accompanying image can really enhance a poem so well.
One gets the feeling of the times.
The title was perfect too. Who could fail to want to read the poem having found it. Congrats on the nib.
It’s lovely to see Allen back commenting too.

Alison x 🙂

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