John Donne’s 13th sermon, preached at Whitehall,
On the first Friday of Lent, 1622, comprised an extended reflection
On John 11: verse 35 – “Jesus wept.”
Leaving aside the analysis of Christ’s 3 different modes of lachrymose,
Donne made a curious observation concerning
The physical nature of the human body:
“Every man is but a sponge, and but a sponge filled with tears:
And whether you lay your right hand or your left
Upon a full sponge, it will weep.”
It was a commonly held view, dating back hundreds of years,
And especially from the Middle Ages
Until at least the 18th century, that the corpus humanum
Was susceptible to assimilation, by way of
Environmental and supernatural osmosis.
Men and women absorbed sweet air and foul air,
Fair spirits and evil spirits,
Whether they chose to or not,
And whatever was absorbed inevitably produced
Some form of altered state, be it for better or worse.
The notion of the body as a kind of porous mass
Was inextricably connected to the long-accepted
Belief in the flux of the 4 humours;
An holistic concept, originally derived from Greek natural philosophy,
And most notably articulated by Aristotle, Hippocrates and Galen.
The 4 humours were the metabolic agents of the 4 elements in the body.
Maintaining the right balance and purity of the humours
Was essential for the maintainance of an individual’s health.
Blood, or the Sanguine humour, was red and haemoglobin rich,
And related to the element of air;
Phlegm, or the Phlegmatic humour, was plasma-clear,
And related to the element of water;
Yellow Bile, or the Choleric humour, was a slight residue or bilirubin,
With a yellowish tint, and related to the element of fire;
Black Bile, or the Melancholic humour, was a brownish-grey sediment,
With platelets and clotting factors, related to the element of earth.
Disease and spiritual affliction were, therefore,
The direct result of an imbalance between the humours,
Their respective elements, and a number of additional traits.
Sanguine, hot and moist, was associated with Spring and adolescence;
Phlegmatic, cold and moist, was associated with Autumn and maturity;
Choleric, hot and dry, was associated with Summer and childhood;
Melancholic, cold and dry, was associated with Winter and old age.
In turn, each humour was identified with a specific part of the anatomy:
Sanguine, the heart; Phlegmatic, the brain; Choleric, the gall bladder;
Melancholic, the spleen – and to complete the picture, each humour
Was designated a planet, thereby creating an entire
Cosmological body map: Jupiter with blood, the moon with phlegm,
Mars with yellow bile, and Saturn with black bile.
The interaction of the humours accounted for differences in age,
Gender, emotions and disposition, and their influence changed
With the seasons, the time of day, and with the human life span.
As a first step to any treatment, the doctor might prescribe a regimen
Of diet, activity and exercise, designed to balance whatever imbalance
The patient was suffering from, and if that didn’t work, appropriate drugs
Were introduced, with a view to purging, and thereby eliminating
The affliction – more often than not, a poisonous emetic, like hellebore,
Which induced vomiting and diarrhea.
Gary Lindquester speculates, in the History of Human Disease,
That in the case of fever – a hot, dry disease – the culprit was yellow bile,
So the doctor would increase its opposite, phlegm, via cold baths.
On the other hand, if a patient suffered from a cold (too much phlegm),
He or she would be bundled up in bed, and told to drink wine.
The internal structure of the human body was mainly understood
Through analogy with animals, inference via external features,
And natural philosophy – a method of semi-informed speculation.
According to the pre-Socratic philosopher, Democritus,
“I do anatomize and cut up these poor beasts… to see the cause of these
Distempers, vanities, and follies, which are the burden of all creatures.”
The ‘poor beasts’ in question weren’t human, though,
And although vivisection was carried out on the battlefield,
Greco-Roman doctors did not routinely open up cadavers,
In order to study their complex internal configuration – a disquieting thought,
From a modern perspective, but nonetheless a diagnostic process
Which remained acceptus est for over 2,000 years.
The long history of pandemics and epidemics
Stretches back in time to 1200 BCE, when Babylon,
Central and Southern Asia, and Mesopotamia
Were ravaged by a devastating outbreak of influenza.
The number of casualties is unknown,
Although it’s certain the death toll was high.
Between 429 and 426 BCE, typhoid fever struck Athens,
Leaving up to 100,000 dead citizens in its wake,
And in 412 BCE, there was an influenza epidemic in Northern Greece.
Quite how the physicians of the day treated the victims,
Given their chief recourse was to rely on the pre-scientific
Methodology of the 4 humours, is hard to imagine.
Indeed, from that point onwards, the flux of the 4 humours
Was all that doctors had at their disposal,
In relation to the treatment of every victim of every plague event,
At least up until the beginning of the 18th century.
The Antonine Plague of 180 to 165 BCE, with 5 million dead;
The Plague of Justinian, between 541 and 542, with up to 50 million dead;
The Japanese Smallpox epidemic, between 735 and 737,
With 1 million dead… These were all relatively minor affairs,
When compared with the Bubonic Plague or Black Death,
Which blazed across Europe, during the mid-14th century.
Up to 50% of its inhabitants were wiped out, and it took more
Than 200 years for the continent’s population to recover.
What caused the rapid spread of the epidemic is a source of debate,
Since several recent papers conclude that humans
Were more likely to be responsible than either rats, or the fleas they carried.
However, the most favoured candidate, as regards the initial cause,
Remains the Yersinia pestis, via the Oriental rat flea,
Which triggered 3 distinct plagues: pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic.
Victims suffered a type of gangrene, that took the form of black rot –
Thus the Black Death – and once someone began to turn black,
They died soon after.
At the time of the Bubonic Plague, it was understood that disease
Was spread and received through the air, by way of polluted vapours.
These polluted vapours were known as miasma, and they were absorbed,
As a sponge absorbs fluid, although the details of precisely how
It happened were far from clear: what was equally unclear
Were the real forms of transmission, whereby a pathogen,
In microbe form, could infect an individual, or a group.
However much doctors knew about the 4 humours,
They were utterly ignorant with regard to the actual facts
Surrounding airborne infection, whether it was caused by
Coughing, sneezing or breathing; of how wet and dry particles
Stayed in the air for a short or long time;
Of the dangers of direct infection via the host,
Or of indirect infection via a contaminated surface.
Neither did they grasp that unwashed hands, ill-prepared food,
And insanitary conditions in general played a significant role
In the spreading of disease.
In the case of the Black Death, of course – assuming the Yersinia pestis
Was the initial culprit – transmission was caused
By another organism entirely: something which not even
The finest of Europe’s doctors could have diagnosed, let alone treated.
If misasma was responsible for causing pestilence,
Then where did it come from in the first place?
There were several competing theories:
Celestial bodies were blamed… and earthquakes… and the sea…
And southern winds… and the stench from swamps,
Decaying plants and animals, cesspools and sewers, dung heaps,
Human corpses, underground caverns, and even certain rooms in the house.
While most European physicians suspected the disease was infectious,
They simply didn’t know how to deal with it – in fact,
The chief recommendation was to leave plague-infested areas
As quickly as possible, which is certainly what many rich doctors did.
Those who had no choice but to remain had few options,
Other than to rely on prayer, or on a myriad of folk and magical solutions,
Given that the flux of the 4 humours proved next-to-useless.
It was reasoned that if ‘bad’ air caused pestilence, then ‘good’ air
Might fight it, or even prevent it from happening in the first place.
Richly aromatic woods were burned, to fill houses with curative scent,
And when people left their homes, they carried amber with them,
Or smelling apples, which contained aloes, rose water, and the like.
Sweet smells were always a fundamental part of Church ritual,
Via the burning of incense during services, processions, and
On special occasions; indeed, sweet smells are often mentioned in
The Bible, in order to signify a special kind of perfume –
The odour of sanctity, quite literally – and Heavenly Jerusalem itself,
The eternal Christian city, was, according to Saint Augustine,
Filled with “a fragrance which no breeze can disperse”.
On the other hand, by way of complete contrast, quack doctors
Sold bottles of flatus to keep the plague away, which lucky customers
Were instructed to sniff – a bizarre form of early complimentary medicine.
Alongside sweet smells or otherwise, bathing in gold (for the wealthy),
Or in rose water (for the poor), were thought to fight the contagion,
And it was believed precious stones contained healing properties.
One of the rare precautions which actually helped, although too late
For victims of the Black Death, was recommended by Dionysius Colle
In the 16th century, whereby a powder of sulphur, arsenic and antimony
Was thrown into a fire, since sulphur destroys bacteria, fleas, and rats!
Most Christians across Europe thought the plague
Was sent by God, as a grandiose punishment of collective sin –
A monstrous act, even by His vengeful Biblical standards,
Or that perhaps it was inflicted by Satan, or even by the anti-Christ.
On the other hand, maybe Jews were to blame, despite the fact
That the plague killed them as effectively as it killed Christians.
It was even thought in some quarters that demon dogs were responsible
For spreading the disease, or – given their assumed association with
Alleged witches and sorcery – the domestic cat was behind it all.
In any event, given that nothing else truly worked, praying for
God’s forgiveness seemed a sensible thing to do, and if not praying to Him,
Then winning His forgiveness in another way, howsoever bizarre.
As well as lashing out at their neighbours, by purging communities
Of Hebrews and heretics, some people decided to lash themselves,
Via heavy leather straps, studded with sharp pieces of metal.
Processions of self-styled flagellants travelled from town to town,
And engaged in public displays of penance and self-harm.
According to Sir Robert of Avesbury, who witnessed their ritual,
“Four of them would chant in their native tongue, and another four
Would chant in response, like a litany. Thrice they would all
Cast themselves on the ground in this sort of procession…”
Although such acts of individual and group sadomasochism
Achieved nothing, in terms of assuaging the impact of plague,
At least they provided spectators with something salacious to gawp at,
And thus take their minds off death, if only for an hour or so.
Between 1600 and 1835, there were several outbreaks of plague
Although none as destructive as the first Black Death.
The worst epidemic took place in the so-called New World,
Over a period of 400 years or so, where, from the 1520’s until the middle
Of the 19th century, up to 90% of ‘native Americans’ perished,
As a direct result of smallpox, inadvertently introduced
To the continent by European colonisers-cum-settlers.
However, since the late 19th century, epidemics and pandemics
Have become almost a matter of course, and at least as regular
As major military conflicts.
From 1889 until 1916, there were outbreaks of
Influenza, Yellow Fever, Trypanosomiasis, Cholera, Bubonic Plague,
Pneumonic Plague, Encephalitis Lethargica, and Poliomyelitis.
As if that wasn’t enough unnecessary death to be going on with,
The world witnessed, between 1914 and 1918, an orgy of
State sanctioned murder, in the form of the Great War,
In order to settle which of several competing Empires might
Best prosper at the expense of the others, as the 20th century unfolded.
However, the figure of 23 million people, who perished as the
Direct result of tribal blood-letting, pales into almost-insignificance,
When set against the final death toll of the Spanish Flu pandemic,
Which raged for 3 years, from 1917 until 1920, by way of
The Influenza A virus, subtype H1N1.
It’s impossible to state precisely how many lives were lost,
Since the pandemic coincided with the end of the War, as well as
An outbreak of Typhus in Russia, and the Russian Revolution.
Best estimates range from 50 to 100 million deaths, the majority
Of which were the result of a second wave of infection.
Whatever the true figure, it’s probably accurate to say that
Spanish Flu was the most pernicious of all pandemics, except for
The first Black Death; a dubious distinction – although,
Oddly enough, the virus didn’t appear to care.
Since the 1920’s, as the world has become more overcrowded,
In terms of the density of the human population, and despite the
Best efforts of a multitude of tribal war mongers to violently redress
The balance, by way of military conflict and mass extermination,
Pandemics and epidemics have regularly continued to cull homo sapiens
On a scale which even the most deranged of grinning sociopaths,
Or bullet-headed of generals might find somewhat excessive.
Excluding all of the different forms of viral diseases already mentioned,
There have been outbreaks of Typhoid Fever, Malaria, Relapsing Fever,
Influenza A virus subtype H2N2 & H3N2, Vcjd, Meningitis, Nipah Virus,
Dengue Fever, SARS, Leishmaniasis, Ebola, Chikungunya Virus,
Rift Valley Fever, Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease, Mumps, MERS, Measles,
Hepatitis E & A, Zika Virus, Japanese Encephalitis – and, from 1981
Until the present, HIV/AIDS.
SARS-CoV-2 first appeared in December, 2019, in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The Huanan Seafood Market – a wet market – is a complex of stalls
Selling live fish, meat and wild animals (legally or otherwise).
It’s believed by researchers of zoonotic diseases that the new virus
Mutated from a coronavirus common in certain mammals,
Which then jumped over to people who were selling and buying in the bazaar.
Given the messy, unsanitary conditions common in such places,
Awash with blood, guts and melted ice; where the ‘merchandise’ is killed in
Front of the customers’ eyes; where the stress of captivity for wild animals
Weakens their immune systems; where viruses from different species mingle;
Where bits of genetic code are swapped, from one species to another,
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see how a new strain of virus
Gained a foothold in the first place.
Although bats are known carriers of the latest strain of the disease,
It was thought there must be another animal, an intermediary, which
Connected bats with humans – a missing link, of some sort.
After testing more than a 1,000 samples from wild animals,
Scientists at the South China Agricultural University found that
The genome sequence of viruses in pangolins was 99% identical
To those of coronavirus patients – and although the selling of pangolins
Is against Chinese law, that didn’t prevent unscrupulous dealers from
Breaking that law at Huanan Seafood Market.
In actual fact, the pangolin is the most poached and trafficked mammal
In the world, with its scales used to treat arthritis, menstrual pain,
And skin conditions, while its flesh is considered a great delicacy.
Thus it was, a rapacious, bloody form of capitalism was responsible
For the introduction of a lethal virus: not the fault of bats; not the fault
Of the pangolin, but an inevitable consequence of man’s insatiable desire
To commodify, utilise, and consume almost every living thing on the planet,
Irrespective of the long-term repercussions.
What followed is well-documented, and the consequences
Have proved fatal in hundreds of thousands of cases.
Generally speaking, though, the pandemic has been kept under control;
The result of strict quarantine measures and appropriate hospital treatment.
Although the number of casualties is high, it’s nowhere near the
Appalling magnitude of the Spanish Flu, let alone the first Black Death.
Fortunately, the methodology of the 4 humours, and the quaint notion
That humans absorb disease, as a sponge absorbs fluid,
Have been displaced by rational, analytical medical science.
Similarly, attributing responsibility for the virus at God’s heavenly door,
Or blaming the Devil, or the anti-Christ, are not views shared
By any but a relatively small number of wild-eyed fundamentalists.
However, that’s not to say certain conspiracy theories
Haven’t emerged over the course of several months,
Nor that a number of novel treatments haven’t been proclaimed,
Especially by those who really should have known better.
In no particular order of ‘just wrong’, it’s been suggested that
Covid-19 was originally engineered by the Chinese Government
As a bio weapon, in the Bio-safety Level 4 laboratory (BSL-4),
Situated a few miles from the Huanan wet market.
When the virus escaped, by accident, the news was suppressed for one week,
In order to give the authorities time to invent an excuse – thus the temporary
Silencing of doctors and whistleblowers.
The fact that BSL-4 was a designated World Health Organization site,
Merely added weight to the overloaded hype.
Conversely, it was also suggested that the release of Covid-19
Was the deliberate act of several Americans,
Who happened to be based at BSL-4 at the time, as a way of
Damaging the Chinese state, in line with the US President’s
Unpredictable tit-for-tat economic policies.
The fact is, according to Richard Ebright, a professor of
Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, Covid-19 is a naturally evolved
Virus, with “absolutely nothing in the genome sequence”
To suggest otherwise.
It’s no coincidence – or so say a number of technophobic Luddites –
That in November 2019, China turned on some of its 5G networks.
It was rumoured this caused people to faint in the streets,
Or even drop down dead; the direct result of radiation from 5G masts,
Which disrupted oxygen levels in the blood – all whispers and lies,
But lies which gained traction across the world, fast-tracked
Via the internet: an irony which defies explicitation.
In fact there neither was, nor is, any credible evidence that 5G
Is harmful to people’s health, and the deliberate burning of 5G masts
Merely served to damage a vital means of communication,
When it was most required.
In 2018, the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, presented a simulation
Which suggested a flu similar to the Spanish flu of 1917-20 could kill
50 million people within 6 months, and that global public health
Was ill-equipped to deal with the fallout.
His call for better preparedness was interpreted by some as a kind of
Gleeful anticipation of such a pandemic, since he might profit,
By way of a ready-made vaccine – despite the rather obvious fact
That SARS-CoV-2 didn’t exist in 2018.
Whatever one thinks of Gates and his vast material wealth,
His philanthropic projects and concerns are well-known,
And would appear to be entirely genuine.
Not entirely dissimilar to the Bill Gates nonsense,
It’s been suggested that some, if not all, governments already
Possess a vaccine for Covid-19, and that it’s being deliberately withheld,
Until the old and the infirm are fully eradicated: a culling process,
Justified, in Darwinian terms, as the survival of the fittest.
The fact that the British Prime Minister’s chief advisor blithely
Expressed such an attitude, when he allegedly referred to
The possible high mortality rate in care homes as a form of
Collateral damage (or words to that effect),
Didn’t help matters, although the chief advisor in question denied ever
Saying such a thing in the first place – a denial to be taken with
A large pinch of salt, given it was reported by a Government lackey,
And the advisor in question had previous form.
Either way, as Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s
Centre for Health Security, put it: “There are no vaccines available
For any coronaviruses, let alone the Wuhan one”.
In certain quarters, the fact that some of China’s citizens consume
Exotic animals, has been used as an excuse to tar all Chinese,
And anyone who looks vaguely ‘oriental’, with the same brush –
A form of cultural imperialism-cum-racism, which runs along the lines of:
‘If they didn’t have such disgusting eating habits,
We wouldn’t be fighting a pandemic in the first place’.
The seeming corollary to this attitude is that the Chinese, en masse,
Are carriers of the virus, and should be treated accordingly.
Violent attacks against Chinese businesses and people worldwide
Comprise sad proof that such ignorant claptrap is widely believed,
Especially by those whose agendas go way beyond health and safety concerns.
Noticeably prevalent in the United States of America – but
Not only in that country – is the peculiar notion that
Everything to do with Covid-19 is actually false;
That the entire thing is a giant hoax, and a hoax concocted by
Devious governments across the world, as a way of silencing dissent.
The sight of hundreds of heavily armed, mainly obese, white Americans,
Protesting their ‘right’ to go shopping, to visit the hairdresser,
And to sunbathe and surf, has become as all-American as
Apple pie and school shootings, although if the protestors had been
Black, or Hispanic, or First Nations, it’s likely they’d have been arrested,
If not shot, by the forces of law and order.
It almost goes without saying that the Commander-in-Chief has been
Fully supportive of these brave heirs to Paul Revere, describing them
As ‘good people’ – good people who, in some cases, and without any
Comprehension of the term, ‘ironic’, wear face masks:
As fashion statements, presumably…
There’s one final conspiracy theory worth mentioning –
If, indeed, it can be called any kind of theory at all,
Since it’s little more than fanciful drivel:
The pandemic of 2020 was predicted, in 1981, by the author,
Dean Koontz, in his book, The Eyes of Darkness.
Koontz’s novels are suspense thrillers, which incorporate elements of
Horror, fantasy, and so on: what they don’t incorporate are
Mother Shipton-like prophecies of future disasters, howsoever amusing
It might seem to pretend that they do.
According to a character in the book, ‘Wuhan-400’ was developed at
The RDNA lab outside the city, and “it was the four-hundredth strain
Of man-made microorganisms created at the research centre” – a
Wonderfully convenient ‘prediction’, for those who suggest that
Covid-19 was deliberately engineered by the Chinese as a bio weapon.
Of the bizarre, not to say plain dangerous, ‘cures’ for the effects of
Covid-19, one in particular sticks out like a gangrenous thumb.
American anti-vaxxers, of which there are hundreds of thousands,
Touted a bleach-based treatment, called Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS).
Far from helping those who were dumb enough to drink it,
MMS actually caused severe vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure, and even death –
Something which didn’t surprise anyone with an iota of common sense.
Unfortunately, this ludicrous idea was advocated by the US President,
Who further suggested that some kind of internal illumination might help.
Without wishing to labour an obvious point, the President demonstrated
Why medical science is best left to medical scientists.
The same President, along with several other alpha male leaders, also
Suggested that catching the virus was no worse than catching a cold,
Or, at most, a slight touch of flu, so desperate was he to play down
The real effects of Covid-19, in order to keep the economy on track.
A similar position was initially adopted by the British Prime Minister,
For the identical reason, when he declared “humanity needs some
Government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case
Powerfully for freedom of exchange” – that’s to say, business as usual,
As if, somehow, vacuous, free-market bluster, and gung-ho appeals
To a misty-eyed, delusional form of patriotism, could beat
An utterly indifferent, potentially lethal virus into submission.
Other bogus ways of dealing with Covid-19 have included using a hand dryer
For 30 seconds, ingesting as much Vitamin C as possible – or simply waiting
For the Summer to arrive, when the whole thing will blow over
Of its own accord, like some kind of heaven-sent miracle –
Presumably to the accompaniment of angelic trumpet fanfares.
The point of all this is an obvious one:
Despite the 670 years between the first Black Death
And the coronavirus pandemic; despite the extraordinary advances in
Science, technology and medicine, and despite our environmental awareness,
Which clearly suggests that destroying natural habitats, for whatever reason,
Increases the threat of new diseases, a certain ill-informed, credulous,
Superstitious, victim-blaming, downright idiotic set of attitudes and beliefs
Continues to dominate the news, both online and in print form.
While Jews, dogs and cats have escaped censure, the Chinese are
Condemned on all fronts, and especially by America’s Panjandrum-in-Chief,
Who repeatedly refers to the virus as ‘the Chinese virus’, thereby
Giving his followers licence to abuse an entire culture,
Both in the US, and across the world.
Given the shortage of suitable heretics to burn, people have turned,
Instead, to burning 5G masts, since radio waves clearly pervade the hapless,
In much the same way as evil spirits once took possession of an
Individual’s entire personality.
As for latter day alternatives to sniffing sweet or foul scents, taking a bath,
Stroking a lucky stone, or self-flagellation, the quack remedies which
Have emerged are no less ridiculous, and in one particular case,
By dint of what degree of sheer stupidity
The American President came to recommend swigging bleach,
Or internally ‘lighting up’ the body, was and is a complete mystery:
Almost as if he suffered a full intelligence bypass,
Even as the cameras were upon him – although perhaps
The bleach ‘remedy’ might serve as the masochistic equivalent
Of purging, via hellebore, or even of lacerating one’s back.
By comparison, using a hand dryer, or swallowing Vitamin C supplements,
Merely sound silly – almost forms of comic relief.
Acceptance of the orthodoxy of the 4 humours is long gone,
And in its place, a rigorous 21st century medical science reigns supreme.
However, the idea that the corpus humanum absorbs viral disease,
As a sponge absorbs fluid, still has a certain resonance,
And more than an element of truth to it.
In The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, first published in 1976,
The word, ‘meme’, is introduced, which Dawkins ascribed to an idea,
Behaviour or style, that spreads from person to person within a culture.
This concept was eventually appropriated by the internet, whereby any nugget
Of information, true or otherwise, spreads virally from one account to another,
In a process which might be termed ‘imitation’.
As Dawkins himself put it, “I did actually use the metaphor of a virus, so when
Anybody talks about something going viral, that is exactly what a meme is”.
Memes carry cultural notions, symbols, or practises, which are then
Transmitted from one mind to another – analogous to genes,
In that they self-replicate, mutate, evolve, and respond.
In other words, the spreading of memetic information, be it accurate
Or misleading, infects cyberspace, where even the most misshaped of viruses,
That’s to say, fake news, takes on a life of its own,
Via a process of mass contagion,
Thus the plethora of conspiracy theories concerning coronavirus,
As well as the ludicrous suggestions concerning its cure.
This raises an interesting point: how does viral misinformation
Find its way into the human mind, thereby infecting
An entire set of attitudes or beliefs?
What is it that allows irresponsible, patently ridiculous claptrap
To triumph over scientific fact, and measured thought?
Is there, perhaps, a third virus at play: a virus which allows easy access
Between diseased information and the human receptor?
The answer to this question is, yes, there is such a virus,
Though it has no formal name as yet.
However, for the want of something scientifically precise,
Let’s call it the asinalis virus;
A composite of ‘asinine’, ‘stupid’ and ‘doltish’.
This particular virus removes all sense of analytical judgement,
Thus resulting in an indiscriminate ‘soaking-up’ of undiluted sludge,
Just as a sponge absorbs fluid, without distinction between
What is tainted and what is not.
It might be far removed from John Donne’s observation,
“Every man is but a sponge”, and it has nothing whatever to do
With Christ’s 3 different modes of lachrymose,
But it is accurate, as regards the means of mass contagion,
In that it provides the link between fact and fiction.
There are countless examples of individuals who’ve been infected
By the asinalis virus during the SARS-coV-2 pandemic,
Most notably the semi-literate congenital liar and braggadocio
Who currently occupies the White House.
Unfortunately, Donald John Trump is far from alone in his
Fatuous pronouncements, and it’s quite evident, thus far, that
Countries with similarly impaired leaders are suffering a far greater loss
Of human life than those nations led by intelligent, rational figures,
Who, perhaps not surprisingly, happen to be thoughtful, wise women.
Atavistic, chest-beating displays of masculinity mean nothing
To an indifferent virus – neither does bellicose, jingoistic mumbo-jumbo,
Given that the ‘enemy’ is not a visible, uniform-clad, gun-touting antagonist.
In short, the heady tripartite cocktail of COVID-19, plus memetic infection
Via the asinalis virus, has sorted out, and highlighted,
The wheat from the chaff, the scientist from the showman,
The men from the boys-who-love-toys, and the women from the men.
It’s almost tempting to exclaim, in blasphemous desperation:
There’s one final piece to this viral puzzle: Homo sapientes.
In the broadest of terms, we’re an unintelligent species;
A form of parasite, seemingly hell-bent on consuming
The entire resources of planet Earth – our host,
Irrespective of the consequences.
Wherever, whenever, however we are,
Exploitation, destruction and death follow soon after.
Perhaps SARS-coV-2 is simply Nature’s way
Of doing her level best to eradicate
The most ruinous, the most toxic virus of all.
Dafydd ap pedr