This poem was written after reading an article in New Scientist recently. The article shone a light on current thinking about human brain transplantation.
As the magazine’s leader suggested, whatever we might think about some of the ideas discussed, it is important that they are talked about. Scrutiny matters.
The title of the poem refers to a
World War I airman’s song:
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me:
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling / They’ve got the goods for me.
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling? / Oh! Grave, thy victory?
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me.
The man who would transplant
a human head, or properly,
exchange a human frame,
Frankenstein or Doctor Strange?
He talks his plan, so far so good,
and sure, well, perhaps, maybe?
Until chillier air keens a chime,
whispering the unsafe word,
An itinerary reminder bings aloud,
it’s Monday, almost midday,
whether my head is there or absentee,
in two minutes the Bute in test
will scream alarm like a scorched banshee.
And in my arms a little twitch,
fingers flicker startle ready,
fumbling set to save my ears – fair warning
for you and for me.