Poems for these Coronavirus Times

Read by Christopher Eccleston, written by Matthew Kelly for his partner,
Jill Scully, who is a district nurse.

And here’s one from our poet laureate, Simon Armitage, which, as explained in this Guardian article, moves from the outbreak of bubonic plague in Eyam in the 17th century, when a bale of cloth from London brought fleas carrying the plague to the Derbyshire village, to the epic poem Meghadūta by the Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa.

Lockdown by Simon Armitage

And I couldn’t escape the waking dream
of infected fleas

in the warp and weft of soggy cloth
by the tailor’s hearth

in ye olde Eyam.
Then couldn’t un-see

the Boundary Stone,
that cock-eyed dice with its six dark holes,

thimbles brimming with vinegar wine
purging the plagued coins.

Which brought to mind the sorry story
of Emmott Syddall and Rowland Torre,

star-crossed lovers on either side
of the quarantine line

whose wordless courtship spanned the river
till she came no longer.

But slept again,
and dreamt this time

of the exiled yaksha sending word
to his lost wife on a passing cloud,

a cloud that followed an earthly map
of camel trails and cattle tracks,

streams like necklaces,
fan-tailed peacocks, painted elephants,

embroidered bedspreads
of meadows and hedges,

bamboo forests and snow-hatted peaks,
waterfalls, creeks,

the hieroglyphs of wide-winged cranes
and the glistening lotus flower after rain,

the air
hypnotically see-through, rare,

the journey a ponderous one at times, long and slow
but necessarily so.

There are more links to more poems from Sunday’s Guardian article. And, as the article says:

A new anthology of verse written by NHS staff including doctors, cleaners and interpreters was also released in March. These Are the Hands takes its name from a poem by author and poet Michael Rosen, who is ill with coronavirus at the moment, and all proceeds are going to NHS Charities Together’s Covid-19 appeal.

About Angela

I write fiction about the difficulty we have when we try to say what's in our hearts.
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