Musings During a Time of Pandemic: A World Anthology of Poems on COVID-19

After her three elder sisters – the Ebola virus, the N1N1 influenza virus and the SARS virus – wreaked havoc upon humanity in the past, the COVID-19 has come in to complement their mission by ravaging the world and leaving behind scores of deaths and immense grief.

The elder sisters, now perched somewhere on top of a hill, watching the COVID-19’s acts and manoeuvres, clutch their cheeks in wonder and amazement at how fast their younger unknown and naïve sister, who has just entered the boxing ring, can manage to fly fiery punches and spew venom and thus gaining supremacy and authority on earth just as they did.

The COVID-19 pandemic, whose first case was reported in Wuhan-China, has totally changed people’s lifestyles across the world in a way never experienced in modern times. With the consequent lockdowns around the globe, businesses have been closed, the economy and social life are disrupted. School children have found themselves in a strange situation, staying at home for longer periods. Parents, who were not prepared for this kind of condition, have innovated new methods of taming their children and keeping them busy. Medical teams, who are the heroes and heroines in this war against the pandemic, are equally affected as many of them have been infected and lost their lives to the disease. Countries, rich and poor, have found themselves at the crossroads and unable to know how to impose lockdown restrictions and yet manage to cushion the economy. Staying in isolation, keeping social distancing, hand-washing and sanitizing have become a new normal.

In this explosive and critical moment in our lives we ask ourselves the following questions: What role can poetry play? Does poetry matter? Does it have a place in a global pandemic such as this? Yes, it matters and has a role to play. The words of poets have power to touch the sick and heal the grieving hearts of thousands of bereaved families around the globe. Poetry creates a space for reflection and inspiration among the infected and the affected. The poetic expressions have potential to ignite a spirit of commitment and selflessness in the medical team who are leading us in the battlefield against the pandemic. The language, and particularly the choice of words, has capacity to spark off passions in us, in our leaders, in the general public, to act benevolently towards saving humanity. Of essence is that the compositions have the might to set alight a new spirit in the new normal created by the pandemic.

There are over 500 poets from various countries who have contributed their poems to this anthology. I take this opportunity to send my appreciation and gratitude to them all. A big shout out to each one of them – peace and love! They have written their poems with an aim to heal the world, to lift people from the depth of despair that they have sunken into and provide them with hope and a spirit of resilience. Their poems pay homage to

thousands whose lives have been claimed by the Corona Virus. Their expressions is a tribute to the doctors and nurses who are treating the ailing and are working hard towards finding a vaccine. I sincerely thank each poet in here. During the time of compilation and editing, many of these poets wrote to me messages of encouragement, thanking me for this noble project. Others asked whether I was overwhelmed and were ready to help with editing and task of compilation. Some were quick to forgive when I erred by mixing up their documents that they had sent to me. I witnessed, then, and now, a spirit of humanity and a feeling of global love and kindness among poets. I have come to the realization that we are all one human race, a race of poets, bound by one poetic umbilical cord.

This anthology holds a mirror to the present crisis of humanity and I hope it will be a land-mark in the global realm of poetry and, in essence, remain a living record of the pandemic as seen through the lens of our esteemed global poets.

For those who have gone before us, the dead, those swept away by the flapping wings of the bat, we wish them well in their travel!; and, in their sojourn in the cleansing waters of purgatory, let their flawless spirits, independent of the stains of mundane effects of wrong-doing, attain purification and the rewards of the divine abode, a garden of delights; let no torture or torment be subjected upon them, oh, poor souls!, spare them, O God of mercy! since while on earth, they never offended anyone. In their departure from purgatory, let them move on in solemn silence, and acquire wings that will fly them to a watershed, a peaceful spot somewhere beyond the blue; therein, then, in their final dwelling, rest in eternal peace…; and we, who are left behind, who are not any better than them, we who are immortalized in ash and dust, although stained with tears, let’s bond in a spirit of humility and kindness and strive as one human race to rock the world with our messages of hope, love and peace.