FACT CHECK: ‘In The Time Of Pandemic’ – Was This Poem Written In 1869 And Reprinted During The Spanish Influenza?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A viral Facebook post claims that French-Irish writer Kathleen O’Meara wrote the poem “In the Time of Pandemic” in 1869.

“History repeats itself,” reads the introduction to the poem. “Came across this poem written in 1869, reprinted during 1919 Pandemic. This is Timeless.”

Verdict: False

Retired teacher Catherine O’Meara actually wrote the poem in March.

Fact Check: 

The post claims that the poem about social distancing was originally written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Meara and later reprinted during the Spanish flu pandemic that started in 1918. Kathleen O’Meara, also known by her pen name Grace Ramsey, was a 19th century French-Irish biographer and novelist.

The poem has circulated widely on Facebook and Instagram with that attribution in recent weeks due to its reflections on social distancing practices, which have been implemented during the current coronavirus pandemic. It begins with the line “And people stayed home” and goes on to describe ways of passing time in self-isolation, including reading, exercising and making art.

But, contrary to the post’s claims, Kathleen O’Meara didn’t write the poem in 1869 or any other year. (RELATED: Did F. Scott Fitzgerald Pen This Letter While Quarantined During The Spanish Influenza?)

Catherine O’Meara, a retired teacher who lives from Madison, Wisconsin, actually wrote the poem, though the wording varies slightly. It was published on her website The Daily Round in March and has since been shared by author Deepak Chopra and model Bella Hadid, among others.

“I post stuff like that all the time,” OprahMag.com quotes Catherine O’Meara as saying. “I usually don’t get a lot of response. But this found its niche.”

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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