The Martin Rodbell Papers
The Final Farewell or The Last Ode from Building 6
This poem commemorates Rodbell's departure from his laboratory at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, to become the Scientific
Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Number of Image Pages:
3 (158,186 Bytes)
1985-06-01 (June 1, 1985)
Courtesy of Martin Rodbell. This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 10
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1939-1999
SubSeries: Writings by Rodbell
Folder: Poems and Essays, 1964-1997
Transcript: Like a reciprocating engine
Or perhaps better likened to a yoyo
He comes and Goes
Unable to say No
Why, one must query
Does NIH have such an elastic Hold
Are you wary
That there's again another story to be
Well mes amis, Surprise!
His plastic behavior is not because of what
Benevolent administration, it is quipped
or perhaps salary overblown
That's simply a DEVINE pitch.
Perhaps it's because of all that laboratory
That appears on tops of centrifuges
Or on the Floor
And with Amazing Grace
Even behind the Doors.
Then too, of course
There are all those available positions
That appear so frequently with ease
Only to be withdrawn at Christmastide
At the whim of Stockman's army of
Some would argue with merit
That it's all because of the TCO*
That seemingly bottomless pot of gold
Which our university friends in envy
Let's SHARE IT.
Now you think of the Ultimate power
The joys and pleasures of being lab chief
With all those wonderful privileges
Of being treated by colleagues
Both above and below
As if anything you do positive is
Nothing but sacrilegious
Surely you must know that
POWER IS A CURSE!
Well, none of the above "assets'
Said with enclosed quotes
Can explain the numerous facets
He cannot bolt.
The real reasons reside
With people, with ideas and their
With the freedom to be wrong without
The ability to conjure theories as if a seer
Without the constant overbearing reviews
by so-called Peers.
The philosophy of Science,
That seedbed of Truth and Beauty
Survives in our midst
Not because of our administrators
But because of our overwhelming passion
To know and understand in individual
And, with insatiable curiosity,
To reach for the unattainable goal
In the face of the Public's
Unceasing desire to have cures for AIDS,
And the unrelieved fear of cholesterol.
A special toast to my close friends
and associates of many years
Whose camaraderie was so necessary
In face of constant failure
Or even successes so rare as to be
Those miracles that cleanse the spirit.
I thank you all, those here, or out there
Or who have gone to the Elysian Fields,
For sharing those glorious moments
When GTP and Transduction
We made Into a JBC production.
Finally, dear friends, Barbara and I
Leave this hallowed, formerly convent-
And our beloved house in Chevy Chase,
With fond, even loving memories of three
Our only solace
Other than your more than kind accolades
Is the certain knowledge
That, like the Yoyo, the reciprocating
And the rubber band
We shall-as sayeth that old soldier-
Frequently from the Southland.
*telephone call order
Delivered before a special group of friends and colleagues in the assembly hall of Building 1, June 1985
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