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Poet's corner

Two things are certain - history repeats itself and humans love a good poem. So you can imagine our delight when we stumbled upon these two works of literature written in 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic. Something feels eerily similar... 


About this thing “Flu”—

Beg pardon, ker choo—

I think it is nothing but grippe—

At-choo, oh, at-chee—

You must excuse me;

Now here is my tip—

It is not the Flu—

Oh, goodness, ker choo—

But just a big scare

Like they have everywhere,

A regular big bug-a-boo,

At-choo, at-chee, chee—

Just listen to me,

I’m getting a cold in my head.

To resume about “Flu”,

Oh, goodness, ker choo—

So much I have read

About the disease—

‘Scuse me while I sneeze—

At-choo, at-chee, chee,

Ker choo, oh, dod rot it

At-chee, choo, at-chee, 

By gloomy, I’ve got it. 


'Dod rot' (damn) is a swear word that we didn't know we needed.


Here’s a poem written by Edna Groff Diehl who sounds like a 1918 'influencer' lamenting the loss of her beloved group selfies. 


The moon that long October night,

Rose cheerless over city light.

The street crowd surged—but where to go?

The bar? the concert? movies? No!

Old Influenza’s locked the door

To Pleasure Land. Oh, what a bore:


Shut in from all the world without.

Shall we stay home without a pout?

An ill wind, true, that blows, no good,—

We’ll live in family brotherhood.

The house-dog, with his paws outspread.

May at our feet lay his tired head. 


What matters how the night behaves?

What matters now if Theda raves?

Blow high, blow low; not rain nor snow

Can quench our heart-fire’s ruddy glow. 


Oh, influenza, such as thou

Dost take the hurry from our brow,—

Show us home faces—daughter, son—

Whom we but seldom look upon. 


Oft haply, ‘tis some lull in life—

Some trick of Fate—which breaks the strife,

And sits us by the homeside hearth,

Where, once again, our hands stretch forth

And warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze.

Forgotten are the city ways. 


Bonus fact: Theda was a silent movie star at the time, and became a bit of a sex symbol, earning her the nickname The Vamp. Clearly she loved to 'rave'. 

Learn more:

Vancouver Daily World

Harrisburg Telegraph

Quarantine Won’t Be Forever, But Pandemic Fever Is Timeless

Images from Harrisburg Telegraph and Vancouver Daily World

Photo by Laura Chouette

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