Rating: 5.0

Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum

In 1874, Karl Ludwig sat
Staring at his cat
Wondering what scientific discovery
Yet awaited his uncovery.

Seems all the great and renown
Had already placed their markers down
And there was little to be found
In plowing the psychic's hallowed ground.

Came first Aristotle
And others of lesser mettle
Who professed to understand
What was 'melancholy' of man.

Burton in his tome did write
Long and wide
Of the essence of melancholy
and its folly.

In his poem about pain and pleasure
He took far flung measure
Of what it constitutes
And how the mind pollutes.

Then along came Darwin (not the elder)
Who attempted to attribute to love and hunger
The forces of melancholy's strains
That caused to patients their many pains.

Freud, who read Darwin,
Claimed his bit of fame
Expanding on Sex
As it did man, perplex.

Kahlbaum thought it best to let be
What the 'Alienest' could not see.
So, in his records, Kahlbaum did note
Much about his cat, he wrote.

For ‘twas described by Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum
A state experienced by some.
And surely the lay public would know quite well
The nature of the cat and how it did dwell.

Stupor is called by some, 'catalepsy'
Which is nothing more or less
Than the state of mind with which the cat is blessed
When spending most of his (or her) time at rest.

For no external stimuli
Can arouse the cat from the bed in which it lie
All (or almost all) motor activity is suppressed
When the cat is in this state of rest.

Even when it appears that the cat is awake
And eyes are wide open to partake
Of events that are going on
There is no awareness that he is home.

In this state of consciousness the animal remains rigid
And if not frozen, in a word, torpid.
Permitting the cat to remain in a fixed position
Unmoving, regardless of external condition.

'Eureka, there's more.' He cried,
For another characteristic he'd spied.
When the cat was wide awake,
The tail was in motion for nothing's sake.
A swishing, and a twitching back and forth
As if moved by some other force.

'I see yet another characteristic, '
Sometimes it can be limp as a wick,
And carried about like a purse
Relaxed as if dead or worse.

But what shall I call my observations
So my reputation will be known to all Nations?
Something that will ensure that Kahlbaum
Will trip from other's tongue.

'I have it, ' he did exclaim,
'It will bring me everlasting fame.'
It's the state
To which all can relate!

Alas, as time has passed,
Karl Ludwig's name is not recognized,
But his cat has world renown
Living the condition that is well known.


William F Dougherty 08 April 2012

Needs a colon, dash, or ellipsis marks at the end so Catatonic does not float alone, with a pause that delays the puning punchline. I share an addiction for irony.

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James Nall 10 April 2009

Worth twice the 10 I was able to give you, sidi. I have read your Is a Mullet a Fish? . thought it was excellent too, thanx

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Delilah Miller 29 March 2009

That's probably the most upside cleverly-ironic thing I've ever read.

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John Tiong Chunghoo 29 March 2009

i love t his poem sidi.

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