Chrysalis by LJ Bovey – A Poem about Coronavirus/Covid-19 and Lockdown

Chrysalis is a contemporary poem that examines the human response to the coronavirus. At times it is bleak and sombre but with a touch of humour. In the end, the poem concludes with a message of positivity. It was commissioned by PoemAnalysis.

 

Chrysalis – Full Poem Read

Corona used to be just the name of a beer
I’d have a few
Twice a year
On the odd occasion I’d go out
I wish I could go outCovid is not a word we’d be familiar with
Before all this
Before queues outside Tesco’s, two metres between us
Before we stocked up on toilet rolls
Before pasta became platinum
Before the lower class got hooked on quinoa
But they knew what baked beans were
They assumed it was pronounced Quinn Noah
And I know a social commentary
And pedantry
Seems unpleasant of me
But I have to confess to you
I pronounced it that way too.

 

Every lunch time packets soups
4 nights of stew
Britons doing, what Britons do

 

When reduced to our core
Whether rich or poor
We are better with,
Our backs t’wall

 

Our leader has this plague
And our future heir too
So we respond with funny memes
After all, it’s just a flu

 

We point to facts and figures
That help support our claims
We rationalise, our social lives
Our going to our mates

 

We need to come together
And join in staying apart
And though we can’t link arms
We can carry love in hearts

 

So, Facebook take the stage
Your time is now, as social distance grows
From reaching out to, Bev from work
Or chatting to our folks
In the past you have been divisive
Your popularity divided us
And now quarantine divides us
In social media we trust?
If we must

 

So we quell our party spirit
And dust off that guitar
Download the Duolingo
Doesn’t matter where we are
We are here now for weeks
It could be far more
This virus knows no class divide
Between the rich,
The poor

 

Don’t view this isolation
As being in a cell
It’s a chrysalis and we’re out of hell
We will be better
We will appreciate more
All we had and couldn’t see before.

 

Summary of Chrysalis

The poem begins by introducing the topic, as it probably isn’t clear from the title. It then delves into a slightly humorous look to the public’s response to the virus. It then continues to examine British culture. It then segues into an examination of the impact of social media before a call to arms of sorts. The poem concludes by highlighting the positives of self-isolation.

 

Structure of Chrysalis

Chrysalis is presented in 10 stanzas of various length. The lines vary in length and syllables. Although this tends to be relatively consistent, although it doesn’t follow a pattern. This gives the poem a sort of rhythm that lends itself to spoken word. There is a frequent use of rhymes and slant rhymes throughout the poem.

 

Poetic techniques in Chrysalis

There is not a great deal of figurative language. Although when it is used it is generally for effect. The poem, for the most part, can be taken fairly literally. Although the entire point of the poem is that we can use the time in isolation to improve ourselves, much in the way a caterpillar would.

Repetition is used a couple of times. Firstly in the first stanza and then repeatedly in the second. There are a couple of examples of alliteration and rhyme is used throughout the poem, sometimes or aesthetic affect. It is not uncommon in performance poetry for rhyme to be used to make the poem sound more pleasing when performed.

 

Analysis of Chrysalis

First stanza

Corona used to be just the name of a beer
I’d have a few
Twice a year
On the odd occasion, I’d go out
I wish I could go out

The poem begins by making light of the fact that the virus shares its name with a popular alcoholic beverage. As an interesting side note, Corona is Spanish for crown and is a reference to the fact that the virus has many “bumps” on its outer wall, making it resemble a crown. This first verse is spoken from the view of a narrator, presumably the writer. There is a wistfulness as they implicitly admonish themselves for not “going out” more. It would seem that isolation has made them long for the times when they could go out.

 

Second stanza

Covid is not a word we’d be familiar with
Before all this
Before queues outside Tesco’s, two metres between us
Before we stocked up on toilet rolls
Before pasta became platinum
Before the lower class got hooked on quinoa
But they knew what baked beans were
They assumed it was pronounced Quinn Noah
And I know a social commentary
And pedantry
Seems unpleasant of me
But I have to confess to you
I pronounced it that way too.

This stanza examines the response to the self-isolation measures. It makes fun of people panic buying. The suggestion being that people are buying things that they don’t need and wouldn’t usually use. Note the use of the repetition of the word before. The narrator is looking back at a time when things were more normal. This stanza is supposed to be reflective. Also, worth mentioning is the use of “we’d” in the first line of the stanza. The narrator is invited the reader to relate to them by including them in the piece. There is also a use of plosives throughout, note all the words beginning with P. This helps create an image of people barging into one another and a simmering tension. The class divide is mentioned in this stanza too. Class is brought up again later in the poem and this is to highlight the fact that we are all in the same boat, so to speak.

 

Third Stanza

Every lunchtime packets soups
4 nights of stew
Britons doing, what Britons do

This stanza is a nod to the resilience of Great Britain, a veiled reflection on the fact that as a nation we have been in a situation where we had to ration and we survived through that. It is deliberately casual, the suggestion being it is not a big deal to us.

 

Fourth Stanza

When reduced to our core
Whether rich or poor
We are better with,
Our backs t’wall

Once again this stanza uses “we” to suggest camaraderie. This stanza also comments on the classes, trying to insinuate that there is no difference between them. The colloquialism in the last line of this stanza is meant to highlight this. The poet is from the south and using a northern phrase like “t’wall” is meant to highlight togetherness.

 

Fifth Stanza

Our leader has this plague
And our future heir too
So we respond with funny memes
After all, it’s just a flu

Again here we see the reoccurring theme of different classes being on par. The narrator highlights real-world events referencing Boris Johnson and Prince Charles. It also highlights how in typically British fashion we manage to find humour in this situation.

 

Sixth Stanza

We point to facts and figures
That help support our claims
We rationalise, our social lives
Our going to our mates

This stanza is a little accusatory. It’s “throwing shade” on people that flaunt social distancing. However, the narrative voice is using “we” as a pronoun to help point out that they are guilty of this.

 

Seventh Stanza

We need to come together
And join in staying apart
And though we can’t link arms
We can carry love in hearts

There is an almost oxymoronic twist to the first and second lines of this stanza. The idea is that this disaster can bring us closer together but the stanza also highlights the importance of self-isolation.

 

Eighth Stanza

So, Facebook take the stage
Your time is now, as social distance grows
From reaching out to, Bev from work
Or chatting to our folks
In the past, you have been divisive
Your popularity divided us
And now quarantine divides us
In social media we trust?
If we must

This stanza deviates slightly from the central themes. Following on from the idea of us uniting as a nation it highlights the importance of social media in achieving this. The narrative voice is not a fan of social media and it would seem they feel that it can be destructive but they recognise that in this instance it has a huge role to play in helping the country get through this troublesome period.

 

Ninth Stanza

So we quell our party spirit
And dust off that guitar
Download the Duolingo
Doesn’t matter where we are
We are here now for weeks
It could be far more
This virus knows no class divide
Between the rich,
The poor

Here the poem returns to its central theme of the class divide. It points to activities that a lot of people are doing with their spare time, like learning an instrument or a new language. There is a lot of alliteration in this stanza and that is to make the reader feel like everything is coming together. The final part of this stanza explicitly points to the theme of the poem. That all the classes are the same when it comes to this virus. Note how the poor is given its own line. This is to represent how the poorest people in the country are still left adrift. There is a lot of deliberate word choice in this stanza, so while the tone might appear optimistic there is an underlying sadness. The word spirit in the first line and dust in the second are words that could be associated with death. While this stanza is supposed to represent fighting spirit there is a cautionary undertone.

 

Tenth Stanza

Don’t view this isolation
As being in a cell
It’s a chrysalis and we’re out of hell
We will be better
We will appreciate more
All we had and couldn’t see before.

After the “call to arms” in the penultimate stanza, the final stanza brings us back to the reason for the title of the poem. To use this time in isolation to grow.

 

About LJ Bovey

Lee-James Bovey is a British poet from the sleepy, seaside town of Torquay. He studied Literature with the Open University and is currently working towards a Masters in Creative Writing. He has a poetry collection, “love and other associated nonsense” available through Amazon and is at the tail end of finishing his second publication. He works in education and is an editor and contributor to the Poem Analysis website, dealing with the sites social media.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's your thoughts? Join the conversation by commenting
We make sure to reply to every comment submitted, so feel free to join the community and let us know by commenting below.

Get more Poetry Analysis like this in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get new poetry analysis updates straight to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

  • Avatar leee-james bovey says:

    this is not really what I expected from a good poet let alone someone who shares my name. (disgrace)

    • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

      I just like that you called me a good poet! /shrug.

      • Avatar leeee-James Bovey says:

        its “good poet” in quotation marks yah bot

        • Lee-James Bovey Lee-James Bovey says:

          Damn, that’s the first nice thing anyone has said to me in 3 months.

  • Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
    >
    Scroll Up