O What is the News that so fills me with fear
Of people in Wuhan dying, dying?Only a passing fever dear
Only a fever passing.
O what of the terrible news I hear
Of wards crammed to bursting, to bursting? Only a mischievous rumour dear
Only the Fake News lying.
O what of the corpse I saw on a bier
trailed by children crying, crying?Only the seasonal flu my dear
As you well know, it’s catching.
O what is this plague that’s spreading this year
whose clutches do so enmire us?Only the seasonal flu my dear
Or perhaps some new virus.
But do we have masks and protective gear
To shield our nurses so caring, so caring? We’ve thought of that my dear
We’ve been preparing.
O where do I go for our Doctor’s care?
I feel a fever rising, risingHe cannot see you now, my dear
Relax, you’ll be fine in the morning.
O who is it that goes by here
in a cortege slowly passingWhy, that was just our Doctor dear
And his widow dressed in mourning.
O my brain is on fire, pounding my ear
My breath is short and heaving.Try hydroxychloroquine my dear
I must be leaving.
O the reaper stalks the old and young
The spades are digging, diggingA frothing fluid fills my lungs
And stills my breathing.
(Try your hand at translating this poem into Bengali. We will publish selected translation(s) in later issue(s).)
Joseph Samuel is a theoretical physicist working at the Raman Research Institute. In his own words: I have an interest in music and literature. My favourite poets
are John Donne, Sylvia Plath and W.H. Auden. I do not normally write poetry.
But in the early days of the pandemic, an Auden poem kept ringing in my ears and
I woke up early to write the poem below. It was scrubbed and polished later.