And the politicians are calling it “reopening”

Por el momento esto es sólo en inglés. DeepL est toujours recommandé à ceux qui recherchent une bonne et rapide traduction.

A poem written in late May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was easing in New York. Our narrator is making his bicycling way north from New York’s Battery Park and speaks, in his head, to a driver surging behind him toward the FDR drive.

Valentina's faces, more or less, by William Eaton, with crayons, May 2020 - 1You who come behind me now,

You’re in a hurry,

(You were before.)

And do you think now

You must make up

For all the time lost

To the sick and poor?


It seems my bicycling by this shore,

Frustrates car – you – and more,

(O the expressway, it implores!),

And now this dog-eared, dreamy old guy,

Who’s just about lost

To reason and rhyme . . .


Your fist comes down within your car

Your horn it honks

(It’s honked before).

“You’ll not this day block my way

As I hurry again” –

Please hurry adore –

Your horn, your fist, your foot, the floor.


Was it the hurrying you missed before?

The hurrying of others over the side?

Which leads to where we’ll unhurriedly explore

Where rhyme and reason greet the tide?


But first there is a bicycle path.

I leave you to your anxious wrath.

Off you go and none too soon,

May, it seems, is running on fumes,

The markets could, . . .

And here comes June!


We pedal slow who pedal far?

While hurrying honkers rush back to war.

— Poem(s) and drawings, above and below, by William Eaton

Social distancing is not very human, drawing by William Eaton, May 2020∩ I must emphasize that the narrator and the poet are different people, the latter being hardly a patient person, nor a leisurely cyclist! And I would also note that, once again, this poem is rooted in another, in this case a poem by Thomas Hardy. The morning before I drafted the above poem, I was reading in Philip Larkin’s excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse. Larkin, like me, was a great admirer of Hardy’s poetry, and I came across some Hardy poems that used forms and rhythms I envied, let’s say. Some hours later, being honked at as I rode my bike north from Battery Park . . .

Here is one of the Hardy poems:

This Summer and Last

Unhappy summer you,

Who do not see

What your yester-summer saw!

Never, never will you be

Its match to me,

Never, never draw

Smiles your forerunner drew,

Know what it knew!


Divine things done and said

Illumined it,

Whose rays crept into corn-brown curls,

Whose breeze heard a humorous wit

Of fancy flit.—

Still the alert brook purls,

Though feet that there would tread

Elsewhere have sped.


So, bran-new summer, you

Will never see

All that yester-summer saw!

Never, never will you be

In memory

Its rival, never draw

Smiles your forerunner drew,

Know what it knew!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.