Singing and dancing in the cruellest month: A reflection on theology and poetry in a time of COVID

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Christopher Southgate


This article explores what contribution poetry and the arts can make to the human experience in a time of pandemic. It argues that artistic productions can ‘enlarge the heart’ such that sorrow and anxiety are not removed or defeated but are, as in the biblical text, ‘woven […] into a larger imaginative story.’ This argument is made through close examination of three poems: T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, written in 1922 during the Spanish flu epidemic; “Quarantine” by Eavan Boland, set during the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s; and Malcolm Guite’s “Easter 2020”.

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