Sir Bernard Spilsbury - Science Poetry

An important aspect of science festival is the diversity of people, interests, and talents coming together to celebrate science. This year, that included an event of science stand...
19 September 2010

Interview with 

Heather Wastie, Poet


Heather -   My name is Heather Wastie and my poem is about one of the first people to work as a forensic pathologist.  His name was Sir Bernard Spilsbury.  

 Eminent pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury

"Hawley Harvey Crippen said his wife called Belle was missing. 

Said she'd gone off with her lover to some place or another

And the body beneath his cellar, well, he said it wasn't Belle.  

A lie, so it was proved when Bernard Spilsbury entered the case

With his little black book, index cards, and the acrid smell of formaldehyde.  

Immersed in his work with very few friends, unemotional, clear in mind,

A quiet, solitary, dignified man; polite, reserved, he worked alone,

And came alive in the cutting room.  

With the woman who died of a dry shampoo,

Or little Louisa poisoned by Rhubarb,

The man who had told his poor grieving mother

That something was wrong with his private parts,

Or Aida, a laundress with four young children

Who swallowed quinine dissolved in port wine at a quarter past nine.  

Failed abortion, suicide, poisoning with arsenic, matricide,

Doping to render unfit for war, sadomasochists, blood and gore,

Hara-kiri by Japanese and other gruesome jobs like these."


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