The doctor said, Shake hands no more

Mes excuses aux nombreux suivants francophones et hispanohablantes de Montaigbakhtinian. El poema está sólo en inglés esta vez (aunque DeepL puede ofrecerles una buena traducción). La próxima vez, pronto,… une autre expérience trilingue.

The doctor said, Shake hands no more

As a society, just forget about shaking hands. We don’t need to shake hands. We’ve gotta break that custom, because as a matter of fact that is really one of the major ways you can transmit a respiratory-borne illness. — Words from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, April 2020

The doctor said, Shake hands no more,
Never to die or not so soon.
What did he think our shaking for?

When I extend, take yours in mine –
Hopes, needs, infections, how we then
Solemn join, staring eye to eye.

We take the risk of being friends,
Knowing lives, too, come to their ends,
And for this reason reaching out.

The doctor said, Shake hands no more,
What did he think our shaking for?
Or lips entwine: what’s that about?

— Poem and drawing-painting (“Never quarantine a painter”) by William Eaton

∩ Fauci seems to have expressed his opinion on hand-shaking on several occasions. For more: How coronavirus may finally end the handshake in politics, by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large or Fauci: ‘In a perfect world’ Americans would stop shaking hands, by Libby Cathey, ABC News, New York.

I am not sure that Fauci’s medical analysis has proved correct, at least as regards COVID-19, but, meanwhile, the bold might see Freud’s pair of essays, written during World War I, “Zeitgemäßes über Krieg und Tod” (thoughts for these times on war and death). From a translation found online:

Our attitude had not been a sincere one. To listen to us we were, of course, prepared to maintain that death is the necessary termination of life, that every one of us owes nature his death and must be prepared to pay his debt, in short, that death was natural, undeniable, and inevitable. In practice we were accustomed to act as if matters were quite different. We have shown an unmistakable tendency to put death aside, to eliminate it from life. . . .

We regularly lay stress upon the unexpected causes of death, we speak of the accident, the infection, or advanced age, and thus betray our endeavor to debase death from a necessity to an accident.

Give a listen, too, to Laverne Baker’s beautiful recording of Joe Morris’s 1953 rhythm and blues song Shake a Hand. (The song was also recorded, first, by Faye Adams and, subsequently, by many others, including Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney.)

Your troubles I share
Let me know and I’ll be there
I’ll take care of you
Any place and everywhere

Shake a hand, shake a hand,
Shake a hand if you can.

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