R.J. Stove: ‘COVID Sestets’

COVID Sestets

“The thing with feathers.” That is how hope struck
Emily Dickinson. To Aussies, though,
“Feathers” too often hint at Plucka Duck,
Beaked sage of Daryl Somers’ TV show.
Surely there must be better metaphors
For hope, to give a reader reverent pause?

To A.E. Housman, hopes were flowers in dews.
At least this image can be understood.
Of course, it’s not exactly front-page news
That hopes, in Housman’s general neighbourhood,
Were often cheats. Better to stay as sad
And disillusioned as the Shropshire Lad.

Can any bard make hope convincing now?
COVID has messed with everybody’s head.
If this can cease, it’s hard to work out how,
Amid the gruesome totals of our dead.
Perhaps, when facile optimism’s gone,
Hope’s merely Churchill’s phrase: “Keep buggering on.”

R.J. Stove


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