Garstang's Zoological Verses

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SutherlandDesmids
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Garstang's Zoological Verses

#1 Post by SutherlandDesmids » Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:52 pm

I have not been able to trace a copy of the book, but, as some light relief, I give two of Walter Garstang's comic zoological poems (yes, the Garstang of Garstang's Hypothesis).

''The Ballad of the Veliger, or how the Gastropod got his Twist''

Note the wry reference to the absurd Lamarckian theory of evolution!

The Veliger's a lively tar, the liveliest afloat,
A whirling wheel on either side propels his little boat;
But when the danger signal warns his bustling submarine,
He stops the engine, shuts the port, and drops below unseen.

He's witnessed several changes in pelagic motor-craft;
The first he sailed was just a tub, with a tiny cabin aft.
An Archi-mollusk fashioned it, according to his kind,
He'd always stowed his gills and things in a mantle-sac behind.

Young Archi-mollusks went to sea with nothing but a velum—
A sort of autocycling hoop, instead of pram—to wheel 'em;
And, spinning round, they one by one acquired parental features,
A shell above, a foot below—the queerest little creatures.

But when by chance they brushed against their neighbours in the briny,
Coelenterates with stinging threads and Arthropods so spiny,
By one weak spot betrayed, alas, they fell an easy prey—
Their soft preoral lobes in front could not be tucked away!

Their feet, you see, amidships, next the cuddy-hole abaft,
Drew in at once, and left their heads exposed to every shaft.
So Archi-mollusks dwindled, and the race was sinking fast,
When by the merest accident salvation came at last.

A fleet of fry turned out one day, eventful in the sequel:
Whose left and right retractors on the two sides were unequal:
Their starboard halliards fixed astern alone supplied the head,
While those set aport were spread abeam and served the back instead.

Predaceous foes, still drifting by in numbers unabated,
Were baffled now by tactics which their dining plans frustrated.
Their prey upon alarm collapsed, but promptly turned about,
With the tender morsel safe within and the horny foot without!

This manoeuvre (fide Lamarck) speeded up with repetition,
Until the parts affected gained a rhythmical condition,
And torsion, needing now no more a stimulating stab,
Will take its predetermined course in a watchglass in the lab.

In this way, then, the Veliger, triumphantly askew,
Acquired his cabin for'ard, holding all his sailing crew—
A Trochophore in armour cased, with a foot to work the hatch,
And double screws to drive ahead with smartness and despatch.

But when the first new Veligers came home again to shore,
And settled down as Gastropods with mantle-sac afore,
The Archi-mollusk sought a cleft his shame and grief to hide,
Crunched horribly his horny teeth, gave up the ghost, and died.


The Oncosphere

The Oncosphere or Hexacanth was not designed for frolic
His part may be described perhaps as coldly diabolic:
He’s born amid some gruesome things, but this should count for virtue,
That steadily, ‘gainst fearful odds, he plies his task to hurt you!

He’s very small, a mere pin’s head, beset with six small hooklets,
Is whirled about by wind and rain through puddles, field and brooklets;
But if a pig should swallow him, as many porkers do,
He’s made a start with no mistake: He’s on the road to you!

Again I say, don’t blame the brat—he hasn’t any head!
It isn’t any fault of his—he wasn’t painted red!

But once inside, he burrows through, and gropes his way about,
Then swells and sprouts a head at last, though his is inside out!
He’s now a cysticercus in the muscle of a pig,
With just a sporting chance of getting out to grow up big.

If you’ll consent to eat your pork half-raw or underdone,
His troubles will be over, and a Tapeworm will have won
He’ll cast his anchors out, and on your best digested food
Will thrive, and bud an endless chain to raise a countless brood.
“If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg.”

-- Apsley Cherry-Garrard, 'The Worst Journey in the World' vol. ii p. 578

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75RR
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Re: Garstang's Zoological Verses

#2 Post by 75RR » Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:48 pm

Had not come across these before. Particularly liked the The Oncosphere :)
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SutherlandDesmids
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Re: Garstang's Zoological Verses

#3 Post by SutherlandDesmids » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:16 pm

Thank you. I'm glad you like them. Sadly whimsy is not too common these days. My old teacher Alan E. Joyce was a writer of comic botanical and zoological verse as well, I must try to dig some of his out.
“If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg.”

-- Apsley Cherry-Garrard, 'The Worst Journey in the World' vol. ii p. 578

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