The Poetry of Coronavirus

John Donne desired immortality. He died nearly 500 years ago and people have not changed much.

My life expectancy ranges from the next three minutes to the next 30 years. I greedily hope for more.

“And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die,” Donne wrote in a poem. This idea rested in a Christian plan of resurrection and everlasting life. Today we feel free of these mythologies. But are we free?

Coronavirus with its real threat to our expected healthier, ever-increasing lifespans blindsided us. Of course pandemics existed in history and will continue to exist. But our sophisticated medicines, scientific advancements should have found a solution before the problem even began. So began a shockwave around the world.

John Donne’s words are archaic, his poetry steeped in Christian ethos, his conceits include the seduction of women. And we can relate to his deepest desires. We criticize the old, yet scrounge around for an afterlife among the hardware and software of our new gods. Death is still alive and well.

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