A poem titled And People Stayed Home has been making the rounds because it resonates with what many people hope is an outcome of this lockdown.
The author of the poem has been referred to as a Kathleen O’Meara, an Irish-French Catholic writer and biographer during the late Victorian era, but that is incorrect. It was actually written by Catherine M. O’Meara. She published the poem on her website on 16 March 2020 titled In the Time of Pandemic (Politifact, The Poynter Institute, retrieved 30 April 2020).
In the Time of Pandemic is a beautiful poem. I really like it. It speaks to the large part of me that searches for the good in tough situations and tries to grow from them.
Although the poem is a lovely desired-for outcome, and one I would very much like to see happen, this won’t be everyone’s experience of lockdown. Psychiatrists and psychologists are already predicting that the coronavirus pandemic could have a ‘profound’ effect on people’s mental health and are calling for urgent research.
So I was inspired to write an alternative poem
To show a different reality people may be experiencing at this time. I think it’s important that the many different experiences people are having during this lockdown are recognised and acknowledged.
You can read the original poem here. I recommend you read that first.I really like the poem some people are referring to as And People Stayed Home but is actually called In the Time of Pandemic by Catherine O’Meara. It seems to show the show the benefits #lockdown can have. But not everyone will… Click To Tweet
An alternative poem to And People Stayed Home / In the Time of Pandemic
To Find Some Kind of Normality Again
The people were told to stay at home.
They felt caged and out-of-sorts.
So they binged on Netflix and snacked,
drank wine and wore pajamas (a lot),
struggled to home school,
lost their jobs,
and felt anxiety like never before.
Someone switched off the news
someone lost hope.
The people began to wonder what it’s all for.
And the people became worried and depressed.
And in the absence of people who could lift them up,
hopeful, empathetic, kind,
even the earth began to feel the weight.
And when the lockdown ended
and people could gather again
feeling dazed and numb
and they wondered what life could bring them now
and dreamt of the life they once had
and struggled to make sense of everything
and so gathered with what felt like long-lost friends to drink wine
to find some kind of normality again.
In using similar language as the author of In the Time of Pandemic, i.e. ‘someone’, ‘and in the absence of people’, ‘and the earth began’, I want to pay homage to what felt like the rhythm of that poem. And to provide a response to it, an alternative view of how people may be experiencing lockdown.
I want to stress that in no way do I mean this as any form of disrespect to the author of In the Time of Pandemic or her work. As I mentioned above, I really like the poem she wrote.
Make your contribution to the nation’s mental health
Researchers at University College London are conducting a research project about your psychological and social experiences during this period of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out more and take part here.
This kind of research helps to take the psychological pulse of the nation during the pandemic to understand the effects on the nation’s health. The results can also
help develop ways to support people psychologically and socially during the outbreak.
If you have the time and/or inclination to take part, please do.
What’s it like for you
What do you think of the poem And People Stayed Home/ In the Time of Pandemic? An unrealistic outcome or one you hope for? If you were to write a poem about your experience of lockdown, what would it be? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).
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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020