An ode to Florence Nightingale, on the 200th anniversary of her birth
By Jack Gaydon
‘Thou was not born for death, immortal Bird!’ – John Keats, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.
Much has been writ on how Nightingale brought
to men in far-off battlefields
Yet less made of the great meaning she sought
Through study of the findings this did yield –
That festering grime and grim conditions
Do hinder our ability to mend
Killing more than Man’s weapons ever do
And so her life’s mission
formed: to teach nurses how best to tend
With cleanliness, fresh air, and observation too.
Yet her work stretched beyond bodily ills
To ones social and spiritual also
fought against those views which often kill
Women’s chances to learn, prosper and grow.
She sought to treat their souls as much as flesh
And nourish them with thought as well as food,
The worlds of religion and statistics
In someway she did mesh
And, with the wisdom of the world imbued,
Gave new life to nursing – a medical Mystic.