My Amoeba Is Unaware
F.R. Scott, F.R. Scott: Selected Poems (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1966): 120-21.
1of this poem in its favour, though it shares
2in my totality. Like adverbs, it qualifies
3that to which it is attached, adding
4slowly, carefully, painfully, to my living.
5Hosts pay for dinner though the guest
6be uninvited, and symbiosis
7is seldom equal. What most impresses me
8is its immortality, and the 'bigness of its littleness'.
9Truly a marvel of adaptation, equally at home in ponds or paunches
10since the beginning of life, and a threat to religion, with
11an ancestry older than all the gods. Not being oviparous,
12and multiplying geometrically by diffusion of fission,
13parent and child are the same. Such a conception
14is wholly immaculate, needing no redemption.
15Hence no one is born at the expense of another
16and death is purely external, an accident
17but not a law. Then as its size
18is the reverse of colossal, it seems as far removed
19as a prowling space-ship, thus creating
20a vastness and mythology in my internal universe
21which makes me macroscopic. Too long
22have the surfaces sufficed us. Beauty, we are mistaught,
23is skin deep, and holy men, lonely in caves,
24have tried to resist temptation
25by dwelling on the viscera of women,
26thus spitting at heaven and bespattering themselves.
27I proclaim equal rights for the parts, the wonder
28of interdependence, the worth
29of the cellular proletariate whose ceaseless labour
30builds the cathedral of eyes and hands. I honour
31the encyclopaedia of the pseudopodia. The I of the self
32is no less in them than in the entire colony, for individuality
33lies beneath collectivity. But as to a relationship
34unsought by either side, there is need
35for bio-justice. None need tolerate
36invasion of frontiers, bascillary insurrections,
37unicellular anarchy, though such zeal
38be without evil. I am its good, it is not mine, and herein lies
39the right of defence. Therefore though I praise
40this protozoic ancestor,
41I aim at its death with all my feeble weapons,
42knowing I do not know if it still survive.
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
Copyright © the estate of F. R. Scott. Included
with the generous permission of William Toye, his literary executor.