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This poem is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

Poems Elizabeth Smither

DARWIN'S GREEN BILE

After meals for years he vomited
The bile of his discovery
Diagnosis: the wrong temperament.

Square peg in a round hole we call it
This gigantic discovery sitting on
The forehead of a happy temperament.

Wisdom in it? Nature's
Way of getting the message across
A man so mild, such a happy disposition

That the discovery would not go away
But leap over decade after decade
Being worn down by Darwin's reasonableness.

A small price for a kind of pregnancy
And the bile was clear, if you can call
Green clear, of impediment.
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