UKArchive ID: 36215''Y Viva Espana'' by
Originally published on February 12, 2016 in Poetry    

I have been asked to write a pome about Hull volunteers in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War - this kind of mawkish triumphalism ain't my stylee but it wont hurt - I have till June or July to get it right.

Who struck the flint

Or lit the lucifer

That fired the impulse

That propelled Morris Miller

From behind his Spring Bank chemist’s counter

And Morpeth Street, Hull home.

To die god forsaken

On Hill 666

A place of savagery

Shattered rocks

And prickly shrubs

“The hill of the devil”

On the Ebro Front


In October

Anno domine 1938

Was that spark fired

Two years before

On Corporation Fields

Park Street, Hull

In July

When Oswald Mosley

Goose stepped into town

And steel toed and black

Leather jack…boots alike

Flashed like sparklers

On loose cobble stones

And thrown they

Cracked fascist teeth

And jaw bones

And razored caps

Slashed faces twisted by hate

As “Jew boy” commies and their comrades

Chased the Blackshirts out

With their bloodied black shirttails

Hanging limp between their legs.

Or did the socialist fire

Always course the veins

Of this son of Latvian exiles,

Jewish refugees from

Russian Black Hundred pogroms

Sheltering in the haven of Hull?

No first class Pullman carriage

No de luxe Renault charabanc on a spree

Whisked the volunteers across the Pyrenees

They hiked instead

Struggled down smugglers’ secret


Too sheer for pack mule rides

The hot scree burned through holes in their soles.

Turning every blistered step

To a pilgrim martyr's penance

Wounded, close to death

At Caspe in March

But rendered fit sufficient to fight

Half starved like his comrades in arms

Morris Miller was donkey stretchered

Up the hill of the devil

To face a distant foe

at Ebro

Firing from far across the ravine.

Who knows the name of the soldier

That drove the nails into the flayed

Christ at Calvary

And who knows the name of the man

Who gave the order

That fired the mortar

That hit the bare hill

And blasted the grave like

Foxhole crevice

Where Morris Miller

International Brigade

Junior commissar

One time Jewish pharmacist of Hull


And sent him



By hot harsh flint shrapnel

In an eye’s blink

Into eternity.

Eight young men from Hull

Their hearts ablaze to fight for freedom

Rode a train South to London

And to France

And crossed harsh mountains

On mule and foot

In searing heat

And fought

And just four rode the train
Back home to Hull.

© (Coolhermit on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 36215
Archived comments for ''Y Viva Espana''
pdemitchell on 13-02-2016
Y Viva Espana
This is brilliant homage to the brigades. Absolutely spot on - I cannot see any room for improvement. Bravo! Paul

Author's Reply:
Thanks, Paul. I was fortunate to luck out on such a great subject - him being from 2 streets away from where I live, Jewish, Hill 666 etc all the symbology you could wish for - I hope I've done him justice.
Hull, alongside East London and Glasgow was a hotbed of left wing radicalism and mosleyites too - as a city it ought to be noted for far more than white phone boxes, the world's smallest window, Philip Larkin and that city of culture nonsense next year. The International Brigaders really suffered - they were lauded in left wing circles but treated worse than WW1 entrenched Tommies.