Malcolm Guite’s Quarantine Quatrain

Malcolm Guite’s Quarantine Quatrain January 27, 2021

Yesterday there were less, tomorrow there will be more. How does one make sense of hundreds of thousands of untimely deaths? The answer is: I’m not sure one does.

If you’re like me, it can be difficult to actually get a sense of the human toll this pandemic is taking. It’s easy to feel numb to the tragedy and loss. To fight this, I have found Malcolm Guite’s “Quarantine Quatrains” a faithful guide for processing and praying through this long winter. You can read more about this poem here. You can read the full-text of the poem on Malcolm’s website.

To give you a taste of this great poem you can hear the final section of the it read in the Coronavirus Memorial at Norwich Cathedral in the UK.


VII

35

At close of day I hear the gentle rain
Whilst experts on the radio explain
Mind-numbing numbers, rising by the day,
Cyphers of unimaginable pain

36

Each evening they announce the deadly toll
And patient voices calmly call the roll
I hear the numbers, cannot know the names
Behind each number, mind and heart and soul

37

Behind each number one beloved face
A light in life whom no-one can replace,
Leaves on this world a signature, a trace,
A gleaning and a memory of grace

38

All loved and loving, carried to the grave
The ones whom every effort could not save
Amongst them all those carers whose strong love
Brought life for others with the lives they gave.

39

The sun sets and I find myself in prayer
Lifting aloft the sorrow that we share
Feeling for words of hope amidst despair
I voice my vespers through the quiet air:

40

O Christ who suffers with us, hold us close,
Deep in the secret garden of the rose,
Raise over us the banner of your love
And raise us up beyond our last repose.

Photo inside the Norwich Cathedral by Alexander Watts on Unsplash

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