On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
The yellow-leaved waterlily
The green-sheathed daffodilly
Tremble in the water chilly
Round about Shalott.
and on it goes….
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro’ the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
The Lady of Shalott.
It is a phrase we quote so very often in this house – “The curse is come upon me’, cried the Lady of Shalott” but, of late, it has become “The virus has come upon me, cried the Lady of Shalott.” Vandalising poetry is gentle fun but, in this instance, the fun is tainted with some worry as the Cononavirus Covid 19 has become a cause for concern not alone here in Ireland but across the world.
You will have read and heard the reports – from its origins in China it is now a worldwide pandemic and will effect most of us to one degree or other. Perhaps, for the fortunate ones, it will be no more than a period of inconvenience, some time withdrawn from social interaction, a change to routine, a loss of contact with family members, a challenge to ensure household supplies etc.
For those who are infected by the virus it will be a time of greater worry. The young, strong and healthy will, we are told, experience little more that a short and not too severe illness. For the elderly – and we in this household are edging into that category as we are in our mid sixties – it leads to a greater level of concern. Fortunately, we are both healthy, a little cracked but otherwise healthy, and we should come through this even if we have some days of illness, worry and upset. Those older than us, and even those younger, who have existing health issues are most at risk and my thoughts are with these people more than anywhere else. I dread the day, and I feel it is an inevitable day, when I hear a friend, a relation, an acquaintance has contacted the virus and is seriously ill or, heaven forbid, has died.
I hope it is a day which doesn’t come to me or to you. I wish you all well.
In the meantime, we pass our days with morning walks, lunch, afternoons gardening and evenings of reading, writing and television. It will be a quiet existence for a while.
The pheasants in the garden know nothing of this situation, a happy ignorance, and provide moments of quiet and enjoyment for the gardener.