Diary of the Plague Year: Day 16 31 March 2020: Keats, Sonnet to Sleep

The Keats poem from Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings:

Sonnet, to Sleep

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom‑pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:

O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen” ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.

Then save me, or the passèd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,
Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords

Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oilèd wards,
And seal the hushèd Casket of my Soul.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 16 31 March 2020: Cooking up a storm, Benjamin Britten and Soul Bossa Nova

A cold and blustery day.

Quickly dropped off some provisions to Bairbre and Josie this morning and spent the rest of the day drawing.

Nearly finished the drawing so to celebrate decided to marinade some duck breasts that have been lurking in the fridge:

Chinese 5-spice powder
Soy sauce
Salt and pepper

I then started the beginnings of a curry which I will leave simmering for a bit before finishing on Thursday. Fast day tomorrow!

Took a break to listen to Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings by Benjamin Britten on R3. Premiered in 1943, during the darkest days of WWII, at the Wigmore with Dennis Brain on horn and Peter Pears singing. The most wonderfully plangent piece of music.

I looked up the words which are:

And this has just come on the radio:

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 16 31 March 2020: Bairbre Flood, Journalist and Radio Broadcaster


Please have a look at Bairbre’s website.  Bairbre spent six months working with refugees and asylum seekers at the camps in Calais and has recently returned from Lesvos.

She will be coming out of self-imposed quarantine soon we hope! Meanwhile, we have been communicating fenestrially. If that is not a word it should be. Especially in these times.

Bairbre Flood March 2020




Diary of the Plague Year: Day 16 31 March 2020: Quotidian Poetry Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott Of Mutability

Of Mutability

Too many of the best cells in my body
are itching, feeling jagged, turning raw
in this spring chill. It’s two thousand and four
and I don’t know a soul who doesn’t feel small
among the numbers. Razor small.
Look down these days to see your fee
mistrust the pavement and your blood tests
turn the doctor’s expression grave.

Look up to catch eclipses, gold leaf, comets,
angels, chandeliers, out of the corner of your eye,
join them if you like, learn astrophysics, or
learn folksong, human sacrifice, mortality,
flying, fishing, sex without touching much.
Don’t trouble, though, to head anywhere but the sky.

Jo Shapcott

Of Mutability
Faber and Faber