Ettie Newlands

The attribution is wrong, but the sentiment is right.

The poem that begins, “And the people stayed home” has been attributed to a Kathleen O’Mara in 1869 in response to a Spanish flu pandemic.

The poem was actually written by Kitty O’Meara, a retired schoolteacher and chaplain in Madison, Wisconsin, about the COVID-19 pandemic.

It says:

“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.”

The poem appeared in O’Meara’s blog, The Daily Round, on March 16 and is now in the public domain.

It could have been written in 1869 because it’s timeless, but credit where credit is due matters.


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