The Star Malaysia - Star2

Reading Tennyson on pandemic days


A deadly number game has befallen us We keep count like never before.

Why are we weigh’d upon with heaviness, And utterly consumed with sharp distress,


No business

Cash registers forcibly closed.

Someone has blundered.


A metre away

Close proximity frowned on.

The day to night, the night to morn, And day and night I am left alone


Couples self-isolate Prescribed companions­hip.

And when I raised my eyes, above They met with two so full and bright – Such eyes! I swear to you, my love, That these have never lost their light.


Days of self-isolation Thoughts of self and others

For every worm beneath the moon Draws different threads, and late and soon

Spins, toiling out his own cocoon.


Mark this date in November twenty nineteen

Dark cloud released upon us.

Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth


That dastardly Coronaviru­s Of fevers, breathless­ness and dying.

“You must begone,” said Death, “these walks are mine.”


Seconds of hopeful hand washing Seconds to hold your breath

Behold, we know not anything; I can but trust that good shall fall At last – far off – at last to all, And every winter change to spring.

Thirty Lockdown days Crying out for more

The tender grace of a day that is dead Will never come back to me.


The norm in Centigrade The bar best not to cross

The heart will cease to beat; For all things must die.

Zero the number of dead we want Light a distance away.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Malachi Edwin Vethamani is a poet, writer, critic and bibliograp­her. He is currently Professor of Modern English Literature at the School of English, University of Nottingham Malaysia. His publicatio­ns include: Coitus Interruptu­s And Other

Stories (2018), two collection­s of poems, Life Happens (Maya Press, 2017) and

Complicate­d Lives (Maya Press, 2016).

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