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THE PARADOX OF SMALLPOX.

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Born in 1749, he lived
In that time of calendrical change,
A Julian age of Pope and happenstance,
(Where African slaves were mocked for their
Creole medicine and smallpox cures)
And a Gregorian world of Science,
Revolution and Experimentation,
(Of Tyburn Tree skullduggery,
Where even necrophiliac surgeons
Would baulk at payment for smallpox victims)
And walking the enclosed hedgerows, he would
Have heard the shouts and cries of rioting
Pock-marked mechanics and labourers,
Using football to break down new fences,
And heard the retort of property’s muskets;
But, a careful student of farm and field,
Doctor Edward Jenner saw how the smallpox
Killed one in ten in town and village,
And saw how it disfigured survivors
With blindness and indigent beggary,
And he studied the epidemic of
King George’s first strange madness year,
And he listened to the farmyard yarns
Of the protective power of cow-pox, and these
Rustic milkmaid tales convinced this thinker,
That vaccination, as he would call it,
Could save the nation’s health; and in the years
When the “Rights of Man” spread its virus
Through the common swinish multitude,
(To the alarm of Pitt’s body politic)
Edward Jenner took cow – pox from the dairy,
And gave it to the 8 year old James Phipps,
Who gained, as this iconoclast forecast,
Resistance to the ubiquitous pox.
Now, two centuries after such success,
Smallpox is secreted in arsenals,
A scientific threat of germ warfare;
How this country doctor and poet,
How this coiner of neologisms,
Would have despised a term like germ warfare –
Heterodox paradox of smallpox.

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Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-paradox-of-smallpox/