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Poetry in Lockdown: A Pandemic Archive

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The Poetry in Lockdown project, which was initiated in May 2020 and concluded in October 2021, sought to capture something of the experience of the pandemic for the UCD Community.

We invited the UCD Community and their families, including children, to submit poems and reflective pieces on the comfort of poetry.  Over the course of the project, 98 people submitted over 200 poems.  The poems reflected the thoughts and feelings of our broad community on the complex, ever-changing situation through which we lived.

This archive holds the work of UCD students, staff, and alumni and reflected the diversity of the community.  We also welcomed submissions from those with associations with the University, and from the wider community.

The Poetry in Lockdown collection will become part of the Irish Poetry Reading Archive in UCD Library Special Collections and will be available for future students and researchers.  It will form part of the University’s record of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A selection of the poems are presented on this publicly available UCD Library LibGuide, in chronological order according to the date submitted. We are grateful for the permission, granted by the poets, to share their work on this website and in other electronic forms, including social media channels.

leaf   //  Settles by Christine Murray

leaf // Settles

Jewelling | nowhere
       her      Garnets.  
tempering | Scarlet
            on    steel,

                the /   Sky,
                   a   Leaf
                   there is.


Christine Murray

PESTILENCE by A.M. Cousins


Last time it happened – when Pestilence
scythed through our neighbour’s herds –
Dad spread dettol-laced straw at the gate
and Mother sprinkled holy water on the beasts, 
kissed the medal of Saint Benedict,
hung it with blue thread on the cowhouse door. 

Mother’s nights are spent in supplication,
beseeching her Saviour and his Mother;
she even begs St Joseph, the Most Chaste Spouse;
she weeps, blackmails – there’s nothing she won’t say,
no mortification she would not endure
if They keep this scourge from her house.

Is it time to bring out the Child of Prague,
the statues of Mary and her Sacred Son;
to mend our beads, bend our knees and try
to remember the decades of the rosary, 
the litany of the saints? Pray for us.

A.M. Cousins

Knitting Wounds

I want to say unravel — to every wound. 
They are temporary knots:

sensory loops of flimsy unhealing.
But, look closer, as they knit, every

hurt is a duet of needles 
conducting a scar. They clack, clack,

weave like dream-patterns at 4am, 
in time harmony’s thread — each injury 

immersed in lyrical motions of tone: 
kind voice. At their busiest point 

thumbs don’t puncture. This is self-care. 
Damaged as skin is by each penetrating 

stitch, it is bodies of texture constructing 
a woollen cardigan from flesh.


Maeve McKenna

I'd be a glutton

I don’t remember Paris except Eurodisney:
Which is a shameful thing to admit, 
I assume now I’d feel its energy 
Its je ne sais pas
If the films are anything to go by -
Emotion, idea and desire trumps sense 
And everything’s a boozy dance
With sex as undercurrent.
I get the sense of hedonism 
But somewhat masochistic
Nihilist even 
Breakfast of coffee and nicotine 
four layers of butter in puff pastry
And stylish women in jeans and navy 
Bien sûr
bodies are things for kissing 
Enjoying, comfort, dancing.
Why wear wire and padding 
When you have raisins under that shirt 
And you like the feel of the sea at night?


Chaelio Thomas


When we meet I stand two metres from you 
on Maingrard Street, close enough to say: 

stay with the calm climbing daffodil and heather 
stems after storm Jorge; hyacinth stalks 

bending under the unbearable weight 
of their own bouquet.

Coffee calls as we amble by Le Petite Delice.
Sinister symptoms hides apathetic, contagious. 

Wounds so tender lurk beneath skin as terrified
and retractable as a slug.


-Mary Lee

A Fiscal Fable? - Dr Eoin Ó Donnchadha

A Fiscal Fable?

A season watching fox's bed.
A wanting crop, so this was said:
'Oh fox, tell why in times of dearth,
You dump & bury yield in earth?'
'Dear wolf, I don't. I merely sow
Tomorrow's fruits; from these we grow.'


Dr Eoin Ó Donnchadha

A walk through UCD woodlands

Rain on leaves,
hopping and skipping.
Unsure whether it’s a toad,
or maybe a shrew?
No, it’s just a drop,
chaffinch on a treetop.
Drips and drops,
deep in the forest,
Hidden fox cubs eye me up.
In UCD – nature has taken over
her rightful throne.
Now, human,
do not usurp her place.
Let the rain cleanse us,
and step back,
and listen.
As the greenfinch screeches
and the wren belts out its tune.
repellent to the human touch.
Let it rain.
But, most of all,
let us learn.


Dr Anthea Lacchia

Covid 19

Covid 19

The clear blue sky
Screen glued eye
A virtual bye
And then a sigh

A rule of 2
And the sea so blue

How can we cope ?
With no expectations
And too much soap!

James Doran


A Butterfly’s wing.

A beat on the window pane

Striking for freedom


A cocooner’s dream


Philip Brady