Abraham Lincoln borrowed a nugget of wisdom from medieval Persian poetry for a speech delivered six years before his assassination.
He told how a sultan ordered his wise men to invent a sentence which would be true and appropriate in all situations - they presented him with the words: "And this, too, shall pass away."
That's a touchstone for turbulent times, a reminder the restrictions hemming in our lives are destined to vanish. Not inside a week, unfortunately, and maybe not even after a month. We may as well resign ourselves to losing April.
Even then, don't expect limitations to be lifted all at once - they will ease incrementally. However, an end will come.
Meanwhile, we have to survive the new normal which isn't normal in any recognisable sense because the Martians have landed. At least, that's what it feels like. Every time those public health announcements are broadcast, it's as if we're trapped inside Orson Welles's radio version of 'The War of the Worlds'.
The world is not spinning out of control and it's important to remember that. At the same time, a pandemic can't be minimised. As Welles said in defence of his panic-inducing adaptation: "You don't play murder in soft words."
A general sense of foreboding is afoot. It's struck by television footage showing a fleet of army trucks moving the remains of coronavirus victims in Italy, by images of patients spluttering and coughing on the floors of overwhelmed Spanish hospitals, by news the British government is seeking ways to relax rules around writing wills.
In a sign of what may develop here, the Government has asked officials to work on plans for temporary morgues.
Every morning, upon wakening, you forget about lockdown for a few minutes - until realisation dawns and your spirits sink. You wake to the latest death count update. Humankind is learning some humility. Send the coronavirus packing in 12 weeks? Afraid not.
What people are looking for now is hope. I'll rephrase that. I'm looking for hope.
Strangers smiling from a safe distance during those 2km radius walks is consoling. Oddly, so are social media videos of police officers rescuing fluffy ducklings trapped beneath gratings.
I'm only prepared to listen to sunny voices on radio. Nothing dirge-like.
In short, as a self-defence mechanism, I want blue skies and optimism because it's too easy to surrender to tetchiness.
Providentially, some people are making a concerted effort to spread a positive spirit. I have a friend who leaves books on the doorstep and another who drops surprises into my green bin. I've received various items of good cheer through the letterbox (hurrah for the postal service) and phone calls and messages from long-lost friends. When normal service resumes, we should all make a point of meeting those who matter to us.
Over the past week, I have spent time on things I'd normally resist. Two lots of scones were baked using my mother's recipe - this, from someone who dusts the oven occasionally because it gets so little use.
I tidied drawers, finding handy items long forgotten about. I took a feather duster to the house plants after reading they couldn't breathe properly under layers of dust. Usually, the weak can go to the wall as far as I'm concerned. Am I a better person for it? Hardly. But those activities kept fretfulness at bay.
There may come a day when I'll alphabetise the books on my shelves but I'm holding out for now. My hands are starting to look a decade older than my face and need to be tackled, but repairs haven't started yet.
Incidentally, I'll be doing Full Monty handwashing every two hours for the rest of life - an example of how Covid-19 is changing behaviour.
Some people swear by 'Yoga with Adriene' on YouTube to keep them lockdown limber. She's Adriene Mishler, a yoga teacher who chants "find what feels good" during online classes from her Texas home. That raised-by-hippies perkiness will either infuriate you - or neutralise any free-floating anxiety.
Seamus Heaney is helpful, too. Nine days ago, I spotted a Heaney quote chalked on a wooden gate at the bottom of our road, snapped a picture with my phone and tweeted it. "If we can winter this one out we can summer anywhere," wrote the great man, almost as a rallying call from beyond the grave. It gained social media traction and several newspaper columnists ended up using it in their pieces. Clearly, I'm not the only one on the lookout for hope.
Has anyone else noticed how loudly the birds are carolling? We can hear them more clearly because economic activity has more or less halted (those unemployment figures at 17pc and rising are chilling). But gather ye rosebuds while ye may. There's Mother Nature, proceeding about her business and taking not a blind bit of notice of the virus.
We imagine we're the master species but plants are flowering, birds are nesting and the natural world is doing very nicely without us. Speaking of nature, presumably there'll be a Covid-19 baby boom.
There are reasons to feel lucky. Our freedoms are curbed but we're not behind bars. Those with gardens or balconies can walk or sit in them - and thank heavens it's springtime. We are allowed out to exercise and shop for essentials without any obligation to fill in forms before leaving the house, as in some countries.
Another plus is that food is not in short supply, although sometimes the oddest gaps crop up temporarily on supermarket shelves, such as eggs or flour. Luckily, Easter eggs are as plentiful as grains of sand on the beach.
And people are being compliant. Our unity as a community is heartening. But the worry is corners will be cut by some if lockdown drags on. We're not going to be released back on to the streets in a lemming-like body on Easter Sunday - the shutdown will be extended. Its uncertainty, the open-ended nature of these restrictions, add to the demand they place on us.
We've had to learn to curtail our behaviour. To practise restraint. It comes at a price: people talk about feeling snappy, having trouble concentrating, not sleeping well. Separation from family and friends increases tensions; the knowledge you can't be with them if they need you. It's stressful watching our older loved ones paste on a brave face and say everything is fine when it isn't.
But it's not forever. These measures are designed to keep people alive - that's the prize to focus on. Meanwhile, we can appreciate the power of good, whether literature, cinema, music, conversation, food or kindness.
Remember, this too shall pass.