We are witness to the worst period of world history, at least since Europe’s two great wars in the first half of the previous century. How else does one explain almost 15-million confirmed cases and more than 610,000 deaths by Tuesday caused by the Covid-19 pandemic?

Everywhere you look, or whatever you read, there are reports of death and dying, of companies going bankrupt, of people losing jobs, going hungry and generally being driven to the misery Tony Harrison so beautifully, yet so mercilessly, probed in A Kumquat for John Keats, a reference to the English poet who died a miserable death of tuberculosis at the age of 25. Harrison wrote in 1981: “Though last year full of bile and self-defeat; I wanted to believe no life was sweet.”

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