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.

A woman is sitting on a chair and she looks sad. She is sitting near a window and outside the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Behind her her partner is saying, "It's hard hun, I know. Let's go for a walk while the sun is out." What is your experience of the pandemic like? Is it like the woman in this picture or something different. Read the blog and share what your experience is like in the comments.

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 cursed

someone cried

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.

The picture is of the poem Barbara Babcock of Return to Wellness wrote as a response to the poem And People Stayed At Home, otherwise known as In The Time of The Pandemic by Catherine O'Meara. Here is the poem: 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 cursed, someone cried, someone lost hope. The people began to wonder what's it all for. And the people became worried and depressed. And in the absence of people who could lift them up, hopeful, empathetic and 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.

A note

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).  

If you are struggling on dealing with the impact of lockdown and would like support, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

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