Saturday, July 19, 2008

For Seymour Benzer, Upon Receiving the Gruber Prize

Getting Personal

Only half his friends called him crazy
The rest thought he was, may be, lazy
Wanting to figure out human traits
By watching flies run or hide, love or hate.

His students created hermaphroditic flies,
And peered into the depths of their complex eyes.
They gently mutated them into a fate
Of chronic sluggishness or hyperkinetic state.

When Proxmire nominated him for a fleece of gold,
He called him “Rutabaga” and continued being bold.
But when the Grubers undertook their neuroscience venture,
He accepted with pride and recounted his adventures

And told of a menagerie of creatures flawed,
The tardy, the stuck, the dunce, the easily awed…
And now on a summer day, when I swat a fly,
I am sure to think: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.


jubjub said...

Great poem! It is wonderful to see such passion about science! I am doing a postdoc at Caltech. I never worked with Professor Benzer, but he is much admired here!

foodie said...


I figured you were at Caltech. Great place. Have you read "Time, Love & Memory" by Jonathan Weiner, about Seymour Benzer? Fun book.

Good luck with your research. I enjoy your contributions to Rex's blog