Esther Greenleaf Mürer
lives in Philadelphia. Her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Mimesis
, Town Creek Poetry
, and The Externalist
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Ode to a Creature Seemingly Incapable of Good
The Guinea-pig, or Restless Cavy . . . . They pass their whole Lives in sleeping, eating, and in the Propagation of their Species. They are by Nature gentle and tame; they do no Mischief, but seem to be equally incapable of Good.
—William Bewick, A General History of Quadrupeds, 1790
O restless Cavy! How canst thou be thinking
To cultivate Nobility of Mind,
Yet spend thy Days in eating, sleeping, drinking
And bootless Propagation of thy Kind?
“First do no Harm,” commands the ancient Oath,
And while thou dost no Mischief, to be sure,
What Good can come of wallowing in Sloth,
Drowsing on Pine-chips mingled with Ordure?
Lo! beckons Pharmacology’s Frontier!
Come, thou shalt brave unheard-of Tribulations!
Thine Exploits shall live on, O Pioneer,
Cited in scientific Publications.
O Pig, thou Inspiration for the Ages!
Whoso the Bounds of Probity o’erleap,
And Imbeciles, and Lunaticks in Cages,
From thee shall learn a Way to earn their Keep.
What though the Corporations get the Fame,
And Profits reap from Shore to distant Shore?
What though forgotten be thy private Name?
Thy Species shall become a Metaphor!