display | more...

A nice little limerick on syphilis:

     There was a young man from Back Bay
     Who thought syphilis just went away.
     He believed that a chancre
     Was only a canker
     That healed in a week and a day.

     But now he has "acne vulgaris" --
     (Or whatever they call it in Paris);
     On his skin it has spread
     From his feet to his head,
     And his friends want to know where his hair is.

     There's more to his terrible plight:
     His pupils won't close in the light
     His heart is cavorting,
     His wife is aborting,
     And he squints through his gun-barrel sight.

     Arthralgia cuts into his slumber;
     His aorta's in need of a plumber;
     But now he has tabes,
     And saber-shinned babies,
     While of gummas he has quite a number.

     He's been treated in every known way,
     But his spirochetes grow day by day;
     He's developed paresis,
     Has long talks with Jesus,
     And thinks he's the Queen of the May.

Theodor Rosebury, 1971
Microbes and Morals: The Strange Story of Venereal Disease




Another version:

               There was a young man of Back Bay 
               Who thought syphilis just went away, 
                    And felt that a chancre 
                    Was merely a canker 
               Acquired in lascivious play. 


               Now first he got acne vulgaris, 
               The kind that is rampant in Paris, 
                    It covered his skin, 
                    From forehead to shin, 
               And now people ask where his hair is. 


               With symptoms increasing in number, 
               His aorta's in need of a plumber, 
                    His heart is cavorting, 
                    His wife is aborting, 
               And now he's acquired a gumma. 


               Consider his terrible plight--- 
               His eyes won't react to the light, 
                    His hands are apraxic, 
                    His gait is ataxic, 
               He's developing gun-barrel sight. 


               His passions are strong, as before, 
               But his penis is flaccid, and sore, 
                    His wife now has tabes 
                    And sabre-shinned babies--- 
               She's really worse off than a whore. 


               There are pains in his belly and knees, 
               His sphincters have gone by degrees, 
                    Paroxysmal incontinence, 
                    With all its concomitants, 
               Brings on quite unpredictable pees. 


               Though treated in every known way, 
               His spirochetes grow day by day, 
                    He's developed paresis, 
                    Converses with Jesus, 
               And thinks he's the Queen of the May.