Monday, March 2, 2009

Adventures in research

During my studies of anthropology and medical anthropology, I've come across some weird stuff. Actually, I should say "things that appear strange to members of post-industrial, post-modern Western cultural systems." Anyway. Sometimes these things are humorous (intentionally or not). I present to you a series of limericks about syphilis, stumbled upon during research for People, Plagues, and Pestilences: The Anthropology of Infectious Disease.

From Webster's Dictionary online:

There was a young man of Back Bay,
Who thought syphilis just went away,
And felt that a chancre,
Was merely a canker,
Acquired in lascivious play.

Now first he got acne vulgaris,
The kind that is rampant in Paris,
It covered his skin,
From forehead to shin,
And now people ask where his hair is.

With symptoms increasing in number,
His aorta's in need of a plumber,
His heart is cavorting,
His wife is aborting,
And now he's acquired a gumma.

Consider his terrible plight,
His eyes won't react to the light,
His hands are apraxic,
His gait is ataxic,
He's developing gun-barrel sight.

His passions are strong, as before,
But his penis is flaccid, and sore,
His wife now has tabes
And sabre-shinned babies,
She's really worse off than a whore.

There are pains in his belly and knees,
His sphincters have gone by degrees,
Paroxysmal incontinence,
With all its concomitants,
Brings on quite unpredictable pees.

Though treated in every known way,
His spirochetes grow day by day,
He's developed paresis,
Converses with Jesus,
And thinks he's the Queen of the May.

The lesson here, kids? Don't get the syph. Because if you do, someday someone will write a nasty poem about you.