A Gift from Haverhill Native and Poet Raymond Comeau, ‘Poem For a Pandemic’

Raymond F. Comeau, left, reviewing a print of the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace with Curator Augustine “Gus” Reusch. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill native Raymond F. Comeau, now of Belmont, is a retired dean and current lecturer at Harvard University Extension School, but his hometown has always had a special place in his heart.

His love of Haverhill and her citizens has been on his mind during the coronavirus pandemic and he offers a special gift. Why the nostalgia? Dr. Comeau was born on Temple Street in Haverhill’s Mount Washington neighborhood, went to John C. Tilton School and graduated from Haverhill High School, where he was president of the class of 1961. Although he left to study at Holy Cross College, it was a Caleb Dustin Hunking scholarship from Haverhill that allowed him to study in Paris. Those Haverhill ties persisted too. He is a trustee, emeritus, of the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace. Like Whittier, his gift to Haverhill is in the form of his work, “Poem For a Pandemic.”

“As I was thinking about life during this pandemic, I decided to write a poem about that, and also give it a little bit of an orientation that might be comforting to people and that might have to do with, how can I help people get through this a little bit—in some small way—through the use of a poem?”

After all, Comeau goes on to explain, that is what moves a poet.

“A poet writes poetry only about things that he feels. When he has a strong feeling or a strong sentiment, a poet simply has to write a poem,” he tells WHAV.

POEM FOR A PANDEMIC

I can’t sleep
Complain my friends

Often myself
Being fearful within four walls

Now that people
May take me away

And such confusion to think about
But I manage when I can

A poem into bed
Repeating

Words of beauty
Like a lullaby

© Raymond Comeau March 2020
[email protected]

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