Thursday, 9 October 2008

Dr Edward Jenner - Signs of Rain poem

(Click on photo to enlarge)

I just had to go in search of Dr Jenner's "rain" poem after it was mentioned in the weather forecasting article I posted a couple of days ago. Country Lass seems to have noticed several of the same things that Dr Jenner mentioned.


The hollow winds begin to blow,
The clouds look black, the glass is low,
The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep
And spiders from their cobwebs peep.

Last night the sun went pale to bed,
The moon in halos hid her head;
The boding shepherd heaves a sigh,

For see! A rainbow spans the sky.

The walls are damp, the ditches smell,

Closed is the pink-eyed pimpernel.

Hark! How the chairs and tables crack.

Old Betty's joints are on the rack;
Her corns with shooting pains torment her,
And to her bed untimely send her.

Loud quack the ducks, the peacocks cry,
The distant hills are looking nigh.

How restless are the snorting swine!
The busy flies disturb the kine.

Low o'er the grass the swallow wings;

The cricket, too, how sharp he sings!

Puss on the hearth, with velvet paws,

Sits wiping o'er her whiskered jaws.

Through the clear stream the fishes rise,

And nimbly catch th' incautios flies.

The glow -worms, numerous and bright,

Illumed the woodland dell last night.

At dusk the squalid toad was seen
Hopping and crawling o'er the green.

The whirling dust the wind obeys,

And in the rapid eddy plays.

The frog has changed his yellow vest,

And in a russet coat is dressed.
Though June, the air is cold and still,

The mellow blackbirds note is shrill;

My dog, so altered in his taste,
Quits mutton bones on grass to feast.

And see, yon rooks, how odd their flight,

They imitate the gliding kite,

And seem precipitate to fall,

As if they felt the piercing ball -
"twill surely rain – I see with sorrow

Our jaunt must be put off tomorrow.

From my own experiences, it's peacocks crying (though none round here to test that theory today!), certain flowers shutting their petals, cows laying down, swallows swooping low, seagulls* over the fields, my horses turning their backs to the wind, the light going a curious yellowy colour before a heavy rainfall (or sometimes snow), and the sudden onset of wind ahead of a weather front. In Devon, there's an old saying that if you can see the moor, then it's going to rain, and if you can't see it, then it's raining already! That works most places with views. As for seagulls, from my childhood I remember the old saying, "Seagull, seagull, stay on sand, it's never long fine, when you're over land."

Dr Jenner's name is probably familiar as he invented the vaccination against smallpox. He was born and died, aged 73 in 1823, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, where the castle is, and close to Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust. He studied medicine in London and St Andrews and was a successful practitioner in his home town for much of his life. Although the Dorset farmer Benjamin Jesty of Worth Matravers had successfully vaccinated his wife and children against Smallpox with a vaccine derived from "cowpox" in 1774, it was not until some 20 years afterwards that Jenner developed the procedure. It was generally understood that milkmaids were generally immune to Smallpox because they became infected with the cowpox through their job. Smallpox was a very virulent disease and perhaps 20% of those affected during an epidemic would die. His early successes led to the Jennerian Institute being opened in London in 1803 and the Government gave financial aid to promote vaccination against smallpox in the general populace. In 1821 he was given the honour of becoming Physician Extraordinary to King George IV. Smallpox was completely eradicated from mankind in 1980 (although there are captive specimens held in official laboratories in America and Russia.

For further information, here is a Wikipedia link:
from which the above information was gleaned.

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