Van Leeuwenhoek’s Animacules


An inordinate fondness for Volvox. Acrylics on canvas.


O Volvox!

O Volvox, Volvox! Wherefore art thou green?
Light ’n dark, sap ’n fern, ’n all those shades in between,
Speckles aplenty, shimmering with all that silvery sheen – 
Not unlike, the cooked garden lima bean.
But pray tell me please, what say thine inner rbcL gene?

O Volvox, Volvox! Wherefore art thou spherical —
A mathematical cow, that is, by Nature, so metaphorical?
Thine ECM more squishy than a giant lipid vesicle,
Or thy somatic cells embedded so neat ‘n’ so geometrical
Since van Leeuwenhoek seldom has there been, a creature so mystical!

O Volvox, Volvox! How dost thou waltz and dance?
And maketh thy fierce yet leftward-biased advance?
Thou wavest thy tiny flagella together – metachronously perchance?
Back and forth they sweep, entrain, and enhance
The tireless pursuit of hydrodynamically-bounded romance.

O Volvox, Volvox! Whence dost thou come — 
Thou most enigmatic and colonial pond scum?
Thinking back to a billion years ago, and then some…
Whereupon to mutation and Evolution, thine ancestors would succumb!
So take pride, in the well-rounded being thou hast become.

O Volvox, Volvox! Whither art thou bound?!
Rolling now, hither and thither in glory surround,
Radiant orb, shapely, green and revolving ‘round,
Towards the sun and pond waters abound,
Where by Mouth of Paramecium, or the Hand of Man, ye shall be found!

K.Y.W. Aug 2015, Cambridge.