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The Plague

"The Plague" [by David Lehman]

Camus The Plague


The Plague

Albert Camus wrote The Plague,
which I want to re-read this week
(now that the frogs, the lice,
and the locusts are upon us)
because his hypothesis is
that the bubonic plague
has broken out in Algeria,
in the coastal town of Oran,
in the 1940s. The plague
he has in mind is bubonic,
the Black Death of the fourteenth century,
which killed a third of Europe.
Fleas from infected rodents transmitted it.

In The Plague the bureaucrats muddy things,
it's a false alarm, says one, and let's not call it
a plague but an unusual type of fever.
Lots of plagues in history, yet each comes as a surprise.
The will -- the competitive desire to live
while others are dying -- is most intense in a calamity.
Nine months from now more babies will be born.

3 / 15 / 20

April 23, 2021

April 16, 2021

April 09, 2021

March 26, 2021

March 20, 2021

December 11, 2020

March 20, 2020

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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