Can you hear the people sing?.Global responses to the Pandemic

Camilla Reeve (Ed.). (London: Palewell Press, 2020).

For many, the Covid 19 pandemic took loved ones and livelihoods away without discrimination.  Yet for others, the confinment was a period in which some felt a sense that things could be better if all worked together instead of waiting for someone else to act.  This feeling of ambiguity between loss and gain is expressed in the poem by Tom Alexander which gives the title to this collection of poems, taken from  the theme music of the play Les Miserables.

“so many sing

           It’s a different song

           Some higher, happier

           some lower, more desperate than mine

           flowing through these days and nights

           a verse, a chorus – who can really say?”

For some, the pandemic is a call to action and mutual help as expressed by Libaharan Ravindram Corona Poem

        “Setting mutual aid communities up

         In response to inadequate measures from the top.

         We seek solace in our interactions”

  For others, it is a period of waiting in uncertainty as Shanta Acharya writes In Lockdown.

        “We pray for the tide to turn, our grief and joy postpone.

         Everyday the news gets worse, we double our trust-

         even this will pass, we cry, hanging on to our faith.”

        As the Lockdown takes people off the street, animals come forth and can be see and heard, as Tina Morris says in A new Way of Living

        “Do you listen to the birds

         singing to you

         because you have been chosen to stand among

         them hearing their voices?”

        The same theme is expressed by Frank McMahon in It was as if

        “We waited, looking sideways at each other,

         fed ourselves as best we could.

        Then we saw, as if we had new sight,

         that dew was making brushstrokes revealing

         what we had overlooked – white blossom

         of hornbeam and chestnut, the sky wiped

         clear of mote and cloud. The land

         filled with birdsong, larks and merwing kites.”

        Maria Cristina Azcona also sees a renewed Nature in

To the Quarantine

        “I lift my eyes to the clear sky

         Its blue colour is now limpid and pure

         Like a miracle in front of my eyes

         A little bird sings to a possible future

         And a green future will be the consolation

         In any place and at every nation.”

        While most of this collection are poems, there a a few short prose pieces such as Boukra by Dima Mekdad, a Syrian in exile in England and The Fantastic Mr Maj by the Zimbabwean Taffy Nyawanza.

This is a rich collection of reflections and observations, perhaps best summed up by another poem of Tina Morris Lockdown or LOCKED IN?

        “In all this enforced space

         and silence,

         have we learned anything

         about our selves

         or are we chanting

         the same old mantras

         in well-practiced idiem?

        in order to move on

        and joyfully, up

        into the light of truth.”

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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