Pandemic poetry 5: A rhyme and a slogan from the Spanish flu

 

A cartoon published in “New York World” during the 1918 pandemic

During National Poetry Month, Glossophilia is posting poetry inspired by pandemics and virus outbreaks of yore. Today we bring you a public service slogan and a children’s rhyme.

During the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, the Red Cross distributed gauze masks and enjoined the public to:

Obey the laws
And wear the gauze!
Protect your jaws
From septic paws!

And this children’s jump-rope rhyme was heard throughout the US during the height of the pandemic:

I had a little bird and its name was Enza
I opened the window and
in-flu-enza…

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