Poems of the Week

Tot Up the Bodies

by Julia Griffin

“Speaking at the Hay literary festival, which is entirely online this year due to the coronavirus
pandemic, the Wolf Hall author said the Tudors ‘were very good at quarantine in those days.
They took it very seriously. I think [Thomas Cromwell] would have locked us down for a bit longer’.”
The Guardian

He, Cromwell, skims his spies’ communiqués,
Absorbing all he needs. French numbers down,
But Muscovy’s are up. The lockdown stays.
Great merchants are protesting, but the Crown
Supports him still. He questions, making sure
(He, Cromwell), and the grave physicians nod:
The pestilence persists, there is no cure
But vigilance. They put their trust in God,
And in him, Cromwell. Let us keep indoors,
Therefore, to worship, for it needs no priest;
Confine all travellers from foreign shores
Till Lammastide, or two score days at least.
He smiles. Should any venture to be lax,
He, Cromwell, has the dungeons, and the axe.