Putting the verse into biodiversity

Wild animals have inspired some great poetry. Think William Blake’s The Tyger, Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Eagle, or The Jaguar by Ted Hughes; iconic poems that glorify some of the world’s most iconic wildlife. But what about all the less familiar, unloved, unprepossessing species that go largely unnoticed and uncelebrated? As long as our literary giants are preoccupied with crafting immortal lines about our most charismatic megafauna, there’s an obvious gap in the market for an intellectual pygmy to write bad verse about obscure animals and plants. Forget Ode to a Nightingale. It’s time to put the ode in nematode. With an estimated 8.7 million species on the planet, there may not be time to do them all justice, but let’s see how we go. It’s unlikely to be a daily posting once my existing supply runs dry – even a prolific wordsmith like Stephen Fry would consider that, as he might say, an enjambment too far. Entries will be a mixture of cursory rhymes (for those with busy lives) and long poems (for those with too much time on their hands). Species will appear randomly, rather than in alphabetical order, otherwise we’ll never make it to ‘zorilla’, and it would be a crying shame not to feature an animal that sounds like a cross between a zebra and a great ape. Stay tuned for Biodiversity Challenge

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