Straying slightly off the theme, Vidur suggested this delightful poem about scientists:
(Poem #798) V.B. Nimble, V.B. Quick
V.B. Wigglesworth wakes at noon, Washes, shaves and very soon Is at the lab; he reads his mail, Swings a tadpole by the tail, Undoes his coat, removes his hat, Dips a spider in a vat Of alkaline, phones the press, Tells them he is F.R.S., Subdivides six protocells, Kills a rat by ringing bells, Writes a treatise, edits two Symposia on "Will man do?," Gives a lecture, audits three, Has the sperm club in for tea, Pensions off an ageing spore, Cracks a test tube, takes some pure Science and applies it, finds, His hat, adjusts it, pulls the blinds, Instructs the jellyfish to spawn, And, by one o'clock, is gone.
Note: The title is, of course, a reference to the old nursery rhyme Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick. FRS: Fellow of the Royal Society - see http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/ I know we've just run an Updike poem, but this hilarious commentary on the nature of Science and the Scientist was too good to pass up. Reminiscent of Cummings' "busy monster manunkind", Updike's portrayal of the energetically officious scientist is, underneath its humour, a critical look at the coldbloodedness of science. Notice how most of the experiments described are, shall we say, detrimental to the continued well-being of their subjects - the spider, the rat, the aging spore, and even the testtube are casually discarded in the name of Science. However, that is a secondary message - the main purpose of the poem, and one in which it succeeds admirably, is to be funny. The deft caricature of a scientist's daily routine, the smattering of academic words (not quite 'jargon', but it fulfils much the same purpose), and the sly hints of self-reference, like the symposia on "Will Man Do?" and the ancient spore that was 'pensioned off' add up to a delightfully amusing and entertaining poem. I particularly liked the line "takes some pure/ science and applies it" - a perfect, nail-on-the-head sort of phrase that made me laugh out loud. Other points of note are the pattering metre, which carry the poem along at a quick but measured pace, and the surprise ending, which was both perfectly timed and altogether unanticipated. Biography: A chronological biography, complete with pictures, can be found at [broken link] http://www.ctel.net/~joyerkes/Item2.html Links: The Updike website: [broken link] http://www.ctel.net/~joyerkes/ The science poems by scientists theme Poem #795 Harold P. Furth, 'The Perils of Modern Living' Poem #797 Lewis F. Richardson, 'Big Whorls Have Little Whorls' Cummings' "pity this busy monster, manunkind", poem #57 And the previous Updike poems we've run Poem #538: 'Back from Vacation' Poem #788: 'I Missed His Book, But I Read His Name' -martin