William R. Phillips

Some days I want to curse infernal
Invention of the learned journal.

Filling miles of lonely shelves
To busy wee indexing elves;

Inform, inspire, but oft instead
Stay still in stacks; lie long unread;

Consuming forests full of trees,
For tenure and advanced degrees.

Periodic publications,
Scholarship, pontifications,

Research, reports, and recent news,
Opinion, ads, and book reviews;

A journal though, when at its best,
Serves scientific minds in quest;

Circulates the world by mail,
And on electrons now can sail.

Authors pack in fact and finding,
Weaving words in weary winding.

Editors can polish prose,
But what it means God only knows.

In each paper lies a kernel
Seeking light, like truth eternal.

William R. Phillips

(Apologies to Joyce Kilmer and his poem, “Trees,” Published in Trees and Other Poems, London: George H. Doran Company; 1914.)

Read the Poem as originally published.

Copyright © 2003 William R. Phillips. Originally appeared in:  Phillips WR. Science Editor. 2003;26(5) :173. (September-October)

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