Gratitude in the Time of COVID-19

2020 has been a year like no other in living memory. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world, causing disease and social distress across the globe. Amid the turmoil, Scott Mason has compiled a collection of haiku and related poetry titled: Gratitude in the Time of COVID-19: The Haiku Hecameron.

The collection seeks to acknowledge the suffering experienced during the pandemic, but also celebrates our gratitude for the beauty and wonder of the world we inhabit.

Structurally, the book is loosely based on Boccaccio’s 14th century classic, The Decameron, which included a series of tales told over ten days. In this case, the haiku and related poems are presented in 100 numbered day sections: hence, the haiku hecameron.

Many poems in Mason’s book catalogue the practices and events with which we are all now familiar: working from home, social distancing, quarantine and simply washing our hands with new-found determination. Here are two examples:

beaming smile . . .
hands behind my back
in case I hug

(Quendryth Young)

only the moon to witness
my regrowth

(Cynthia Rowe)

Yet many of the poems are truly celebratory, giving gratitude for the marvels and delights that abound in our world. Marvels that might, at times, help us endure the pandemic. Marvels that will still be there for us to enjoy when the pandemic has passed. This haibun is a beautiful example:


The vines begin to glow softly, their growing tips unfolding, coiling counter-clockwise. Dragonflies hover and dart in shimmers of emerald and violet, as starlings share the twitter of a sprinkler, splashing over the daisies. Some of these droplets reveal little gardens of their own, complete with blue skies, drifting cloud and myself looking in, looking out – tiny worlds of water and light. And the cat, oh my goodness the cat, slinking down the path, radiant and amber-eyed, the warmth of the sun gazing up at me.

closing my eyes to see
peacocks preening
in a temple garden

(Simon Hanson)

As 2020 comes to a close the world is still in the grip of COVID-19, but we do now have cause for hope that the disease can be beaten. And, as always, cause to be grateful for this beautiful world in which we live.

Gratitude in the Time of COVID-19: The Haiku Hecameron, edited by Scott Mason, can be purchased here. Please scroll down the page to make your selection.