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Kyrie: Poems

William H. McNeill, PhD
JAMA. 1996;275(3):247-248. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530270087040.
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Kyrie is a collection of poems about the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, reminiscent of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. In the informative afterword, the author writes, "In one year, one quarter of the total U.S. population contracted influenza; one out of five never recovered. Nevertheless, the national memory bears little trace."

The following poem from the collection is reprinted by permission of the publisher (copyright 1995 by Ellen Bryant Voigt):

  • Circuit rider, magic leather credential at my feet with its little vials of morphine and digitalis, I made my rounds four days at a stretch out from the village, in and out of their houses and in between, in sunlight, moonlight, nodding on the hard plank seat of the buggy— it didn't matter which turn the old horse took: illness flourished everywhere in the county.

  • At Foxes' the farmhouse doors were barred by snow; they prised a board from a


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