Poems to help you through lockdown

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Don’t underestimate the power of poetry. This art form can be wonderfully therapeutic, allowing you to sit back and experience the feelings conjured up by words, rhythm and rhyme. Similar to the effect that novels hold, poetry allows you to see the world in a different light and can help you foster empathy for others by highlighting just how similar we all are.

The following poems touch on nature, solitude and loss, providing shared solace during this global pandemic.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils) by William Wordsworth (1807)

The 19th-century Romantic poet William Wordsworth found immense pleasure in nature and his lyrical poetry is a fitting choice for helping us to rethink our current situation.

Thanks to lockdown, many people have found themselves noticing and appreciating nature far more than they have done before. We now have the time to quite literally stop and smell the flowers. From bird watching to planting indoor greenery, enjoying nature’s simplicity has provided much-needed refuge for those struggling with the enforced solitude of lockdown.

As Wordsworth’s poem testifies, solitude is not inherently bad. When paired with nature, “the bliss of solitude” fills the heart. The inspiration for this poem was sparked by a rambling walk in the Lake District’s countryside where Wordsworth happened upon a crowd of dancing daffodils.  

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

Untitled by Kitty O’Meara (2020)

The following piece by Kitty O’Meara is a direct response to lockdown. Reading others’ shared experience is often cathartic, encouraging us to realise that we are not alone. O’Meara’s poem also touches on the environmental benefit that has accompanied the slower pace of life – “the earth began to heal” – hoping that these benefits will be carried over when we return to “normal”.

Untitled went viral as soon as it hit the internet. It was shared by Bella Hadid, Deepak Chopra and radio stations across the world.

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

This Room by Eliza Legzdina and Lucinda Chua (2020)

This incredible poem is slightly different. Poetry is meant to be spoken aloud and the following piece perfectly demonstrates why this is the case.

This Room is performed by DJ, vocalist and poet Eliza Legzdina on top of moving sounds and heartfelt strings by composer and musician Lucinda Chua. It was first aired during Chua’s set, Body Ache, on the digital radio NTS and is undeniably emotional.

This Room is about the loss of desire, the physical aching for that person we most want to be with during lockdown but are unable to see.

The poem starts at 33:52 minutes in and finishes at 36:21.

Francesca Lister-Fell


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