Two Poems

By David Banks

Sonnet 11.04.20 (Coronavirus)

like lockdown in London in sixty five
twenty twenty three and a half centuries on
following feverish viral visitations
plague and pestilence pervade Paris

like the yellow peril of yesteryear
airborne wildfire across the world
turning tradition into housebound harassment
hellbent on biding the passing pandemic

like Parisians crossing the periphérique
printers and friends of Oldenburg fled
flouting recalcitrant recommendations
seeking safety and solace elsewhere

still the same fearful reflex
still the same still the same


Sonnet 21.01.21 (Coronavirus 2)

choirs masked no longer massed
choruses mitigated through viral muzzles
vital distancing dousing doubts
flight from plague based fright
fraught with friction heavy with horror
the stress of vibrating viol stings
bass continuo bolstering a curfew

hope pinned on gentle jabs
amid a jumble of disjointed directions
from prerecorded telephonic rejects
and bookings on inaccessible websites

dispersed not pixelated orchestral ensembles
musically disseminate instrumental harmony
harking back and hoping for renewed unison

David Banks was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1943. He has been living abroad since 1975, for a short time in Iraq and since then in France, where he is now Emeritus Professor of English Linguistics at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale. He has been writing and publishing poetry since the early 70s; his publications include Celt Seed, Selected Poems, (Poetry Salzburg, 2003), and Radicals, Poems 2002-2008, (Poetry Monthly, 2009). His academic publication, The Development of Scientific English, Linguistic features and historical context (Equinox), won the ESSE Language and Linguistics book award 2010. His other interests include choral singing and coastal rowing.

I am one of the lucky ones. I live on the Atlantic coast in Britanny, 50 yards from the beach, and just a few miles from the most westerly point of the French mainland. This area has been relatively unscathed by covid, and although we have to follow national regulations (at the moment there is a 6.30 pm curfew), daily life has not changed very much. As far as writing is concerned, I write much as I always have. I therefore have great sympathy for those whose lives have been impacted much more than mine. The only thing a my wife and I find irksome, is the absence of international travel, but that is something, I fear, we will have to live with for quite some time to come.

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Genevieve Bordet
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Genevieve Bordet
8 months ago

Congratulations David, this is very good and very accurate!

Louise
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Louise
8 months ago

Thanks for these thoughtful poems. The first two lines of the second one really capture it for me – even though I’m not in a choir and never have been! Also ‘hope pinned on gentle jabs’. Seems to sum it up.

Bradley Smith
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Bradley Smith
8 months ago

Thanks David, a portrait of life during Covid that will give a good sense of what it was actually like for future generations.

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