And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.1-3
This poem was thought to be written in the 1800s, about 10 years after a famine, yet the words are now appropriate for the current times. However, a controversy about authorship exists. Is this the work of a famous Irish poet Kathleen (Kitty) O’Meara who lived from 1839 to 1888? Or, is it the work of a modern-day poet written during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic of 2019 to 2020 by Catherine M. O’Meara. Perhaps both, as history repeats itself.
The poem may have been written in 1869, reprinted during the 1919 pandemic, and is now widely circulated in social media. The words have been shared in many formats since its first posting. Recently, it was most widely popularized by author and spiritual physician, Dr Deepak Chopra, and has since been shared by radio in countries all over the world. The poem has become a mantra for hope, a soothing meditative narrative. It is now shared in visual context on YouTube and other social media platforms.1,2
In March 2020, Oprah Magazine published an interview with Catherine O’Meara, a former teacher in Madison, Wisconsin, who posted this poem to her blog The Daily Round on March 16, 2020. The poem went viral, racking up thousands of shares as it circulated on social media. The author of the Oprah piece says, “O’Meara is not an expert on dealing with this global crisis, she says. She’s just another person, trying to find grace in the free-fall.”3
One posting on social media adds insight to the author’s identity bringing up the point that the poem appears to be new and was written by Catherine M. O’Meara in March of this year. Western poets at the time of Kathleen O’Meara did not mention meditation, healing the earth, or making choices, as a general rule. This supports thoughts that the original poem was written by Catherine and posted on her Facebook page or blog The Daily Round (https://the-daily-round.com/.../16/in-the-time-of-pandemic/).
Kathleen Ahern Gould, RN, MSN, PhD
Editor-in-Chief DCCN Duxbury, Massachusetts
1. Epiphany, United Kingdom. https://youtu.be/4GCJABKdj1g
. Accessed April 6, 2020.
2. Bo Lundvang, producer, music by Philip Daniel Zach. https://youtu.be/PvwH4t-vX10
. Accessed April 6, 2020.
3. Nicolaou E. Kitty O’Meara, author of “And the people stayed home,” opens out writing that viral poem. The Oprah Magazine
. March 19, 2020. https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a31747557/and-the-people-stayed-home-poem-kitty-omeara-interview/
. Accessed April 2. 2020.