Answers to a Grade-School Biology Test

Original Text: 
Earle Birney, Selected Poems 1940-66 (Toronto and Montreal: McClelland and Stewart, 1966): 158. PS 8503 I75A1 1966 Robarts Library
1To what order do the rats belong?
3Where do they make their homes?
4    In shelters underground
5    below the human border.
6How are their children born?
7    From hydrocarbon links like ours
8    but harder.
9What do they eat?
10    The world's unguarded larder.
11Why are they dangerous to human health?
12    Because our health is their chief danger.
13Have they any use for science?
14    For rodent science, yes;
15    under the street they think
16    and multiply and wait
17    till men have cleared themselves
18    and cats
19    from all the earth that glares at sky
20    and there is freedom to preside
21    for rats.

Notes

2] order: Rodentia. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2009
Rhyme: 
Special Copyright: 

© the Estate of Earle Birney. This poem is protected by Canadian copyright law. RPO is grateful to Madam Justice Wailan Low, the executor of Earle Birney's literary estate, for permission to publish. Anyone wishing to reprint this poem must seek permission in advance from the Birney estate.