Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Robert Louis Stevenson

Speaking of stories and mad scientists.

It was in the back room of his brain that I first heard tell of the prim little doctor who would eventually become my imaginative role-model, if not my mentor, when I took my first tame, tentative steps toward song.

The Mad Scientist

Although I never met the man myself,
We seemed to share a barber—this Mr. Hyde—
A quiet man. He said the Doctor died
Of liver damage. Jaundice. On a shelf,

Above his licenses, stood five glass vials.
Used scissors, I thought, soaking in alcohol.
“Formaldehyde,” Hyde snipped, “to forestall
The gradual decay of human smiles.”

Each jar was neatly numbered and dated.
Each contained a pleasant memory
Dyed a brilliant shade of yellow he
Distilled from flowers—daffodils. Hyde said,

“According to spectral analysis,
There is no formula for happiness.”

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