Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Quarantine Classroom: A Poem for Plague and Pandemic

A poem for my students
inspired by the Summer 2020 syllabus:
Diversity in the Eras o
Medieval Plague and Modern Pandemic

Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?
Where has the semester gone?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?
Where was the summer?

May you heed well the wisdom
How to survive a plague and act up
For all fruits who fall far from fathers
And sprout seeds of a different sort.

May our five or six feet apart
Not cut us off from our quests
Through the riddles and chaos
To find new meanings for intimacy.

Pardon our household dances and revels
Only keep us far from devilish parties
Death will not be stopped by walls or class
Although masks prove better than masques.

May quarantine unravel our pride,
Unveil and unteach our prejudice,
For the uprisings has begun
Among those left for dead.

But as we march, beware the crusades
Promising purity and monstrous cures
For the new men may look much like the old
Only devoid of creative diversity.

May our histories and dreams prepare us
For facing that hideous power
Which causes men to lose their heads
Guiding us in word, love, courage, patience, and glory.

Through flood and fire
May we hold on to hope
Even as the inferno rises
Let us hold up those lives called ‘lost.’

As plague and pandemic fall and spring again,
May these lessons and stories carry you
From season to season, age to age,
Looking back, remaining present, even as we move forward.


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