The Ballad of Covid 19. A Poem by John Saunders

The good doctor holds the chieftain’s whip,
spits out his words and bites his lip
as he relays the daily news of the dead,
fills the old and the vulnerable with dread.

You better keep your distance now,
don’t hug me or kiss me – there’ll be a row,
We are in testing times, locked-down,
the solution is in our isolation.

We stand in queues at two meter spaces
as though we are from different races.
Gardens front and back are expertly kept,
driveways and porches desperately swept.

Corona, or Covid, call it what you like,
its lying in wait ready to spike.
Hide inside and lie low forthwith,
so we can all wash our hands of it.

Twitter and Facebook bring the latest statistics,
every county in the land has the sickness,
the young and the old, the middle aged,
nobody escapes this viral rage.

In these dark days of Covid,
you might find comfort in Ovid.
Let him speak to you in ancient lines
during these troubled modern times.

Be patient and tough; he mulls,
someday this pain will be useful.
Two thousand years later his words
can still bring us comfort.

The days are blending into each other,
yesterday and today the same, oh’ Mother
what shall we do to make time go by?
Bake more bread, eat a slice of apple pie.

Solace can be found mid crisis
in the healing spells of the goddess Isis.
If you’re looking for exercise, you can jog
for weeks to Bob Dylan’s back catalogue.

We’re clapping every day for the worker
toiling at the frontline of warfare,
a science fiction scene of gowns and masks,
what greater service can a country ask.

Someday we will look back on this situation,
and realize how it brought a revolution.
How things suddenly changed for the best,
for all the world, East and West.

Less travel to work and traffic delay,
fewer offices to mind all day,
consumption of carbons on the wane,
a chance for the earth to breathe again.

As we complete our national duty
we can take pleasure in nature’s beauty.
Our determination to survive goes hand in glove,
what will come out of this is our love.


John Saunders has published two collections of poetry; After the Accident 2010 (Lapwing) and Chance 2012 (New Binary Press). He is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers Group

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