Two poems about collecting

Meredith Golomb ’90, MD ’94, wrote these poems as an undergraduate student at Harvard. A copy was found here at the Library among the papers of Prof. Ruth Dixon Turner (1914-2000). Golomb says she must have crossed paths with Prof. Turner multiple times, as she spent a lot of time at the MCZ, but did not work directly with Turner. She dates the later poem to August 22, 1989, inspired by a collecting trip while working on her senior thesis.

Dr. Golomb is now a pediatric neurologist on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine and says she still writes the occasional rhyme.

Embiotocidae Discovered

Jackson looked at his pail and thought
He saw more fishes than he’d caught.
“Wow!” he cried out, “look at this!
These fish must be viviparous!
I wish some Harvard guy could see…
I’ll mail them out to Agassiz.”
Then Louis, we all know did say
“I think Embiotocidae
Is what I’ll call this family
Today, in eighteen fifty-three.”
The humble surfperch now is treasured
Its every detail now is measured
By researchers who hope to make their names
Well known by watching nature’s games


Yesterday I went collecting
Lord knows what I was expecting –
Dampness, yes, a toad, a frog,
I’d never really seen a bog.
Who knows just what I was thinking
Soon I found that I was sinking
To the thigh, and then the waist
In mud, the bog was making haste
To swallow me, net and all
(Although I am quite wide and tall).
I struggled free and struggled forward,
Struggled up and struggled toward
Where the salamanders played
Where the hungry herons preyed
And scooped and swung with my net –
No, no salamanders yet.
Further on, I did tramp
Through the wet and through the damp
What, am I still really newtless?
Could this tramping all be fruitless?
Then I looked down in my pail –
I thought I saw a little tail!
A newt! At least I caught a one –
Now if I could only catch his son,
Brother, wife, daughter, aunt,
All the newts that one could want
But all his pals went into hiding
They fled quite soon after deciding
To leave their dear friend in the lurch –
I suppose they don’t care for research.

See also: Agassiz