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Life in the Drug Labs

Put In Another Methyl Group: A Villanelle

A comment to the most recent post on puns mentioned the famous JOC paper in verse from the 1970s, and prompted another comment that “If you have to report your results as a villanelle, I think we’ll see fewer methyl, ethyl, butyl, futile papers. . .”
Well, it’s not a whole paper, for sure. But here’s the best that I can do in thirty minutes:
Put In Another Methyl Group: A Villanelle

I shouldn’t have to put a methyl there
No matter what the modeling group might say
So it docks to perfection: I don’t care.

The project head gave me an evil glare
When I spoke up at our review today.
I shouldn’t have to put a methyl there.

“The glutamate will pick up that lone pair”.
Who knows? That might be right; I couldn’t say.
So it docks to perfection: I don’t care.

How do these really bind? We don’t know where.
It’s not like we can get a good X-ray.
I shouldn’t have to put a methyl there.

Quaternary chiral centers? I don’t dare.
I’d need two months if I needed a day.
So it docks to perfection: I don’t care.

But no one ever said research was fair.
I’m going to have to come up with a way.
I shouldn’t have to put a methyl there.
So it docks to perfection: I don’t care.

Update: yes, I’m going to give the molecular modelers their own poem. It’s only fair!

20 comments on “Put In Another Methyl Group: A Villanelle”

  1. =GiMP= says:

    oh dear…

  2. rhodium says:

    Obviously, an advantage of getting a BA over a BS is that you know the vinnanelle form. Anything past a limerick and I for one am clueless.

  3. Anonymous BMS Researcher says:

    Love your poem! I wish (1) I could write like that and (2) if I could, that I dared SPEAK like that in Discovery Working Group meetings!

  4. LeeH says:

    Bravo, Derek.
    Think you could write one from the modeler’s perspective?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Don’t give up the day job Derek

  6. Sili says:

    I’ll never dare joke on this blog again.
    Bravo! I’m sure Cuttlefish, OM, will rise to the challenge.

  7. Wavefunction says:

    Bravo! On a more serious note though, why does the modeler want to put in a methyl? If it’s for displacing a well-positioned water molecule the strategy might actually work.

  8. milkshake says:

    A postscript, two months later
    So it docked to perfection; I don’t care
    No matter what the modeling babe might say
    I shouldn’t have put my methyl there

  9. yossarian says:

    Now, could you please re-write it in hexameter?

  10. Derek Lowe says:

    Never came across a villanelle in hexameter, I have to say. The only ones I know off the top of my head are by Dylan Thomas (natch), Sylvia Plath, and Edward Arlington Robinson, though.
    I’ll try to write something from the modeler’s perspective – just to show that I’m not playing favorites, I think that one will be a sonnet.

  11. BFS says:

    For a less-refined approach, you could try modeling a quatraine or two a-la Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham.

  12. Sili says:

    I assume Yossarian meant heroïc hexameter. Five dactyls and a spondee.
    I think that’s more suited for total synthesis.
    Dr Seuss could do hexacyclinol.

  13. Derek Lowe says:

    Sili, writing dactylic hexameter in English will really strain the brain. The only long example I can think of is Longfellow’s “Evangeline”, not that I know that one well.
    Now for Greek and Latin, sure thing. But it just seems to have a stumbling-over-the-feet quality in English, to me, at any rate. . .

  14. Anonymous BMS Researcher says:

    For a real challenge, maybe you could write your poem from the modeler perspective in Terza rima. That form is common in Italian poetry (most famously Dante) but fairly rare in English because it’s lot harder to find the needed rhymes in English.
    At meetings when a project I consider certain to fail is being presented, I’m tempted to quote Dante: “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate” [Give up all hope, you who enter here]. Or as Dilbert would say, “we’re doomed!”.
    When I read yet another academic claiming to have a wonderful drug candidate, with no evidence they have a clue what it really takes to get from lead to clinic, I think of Vergil “hoc opus, hic labor est” [there is the effort, there is the difficulty].
    Milton, Byron, and several 20th-century poets did use Terza rima in English but my personal favorite example is Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind. I have never quite understood why so many poets yammer on about springtime, my favorite season has always been autumn.
    “O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
    Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
    Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing”
    Wonderful poem!

  15. GKA says:

    Oh! I see what you did there.

  16. daen says:

    Here’s a challenge for you, Derek – try writing the modeler’s one as a pantoum! I wrote one last year, about cosmology, and our ultimate fate, inspired by the wonderful English poet Wendy Cope’s “Roger Bear’s Philosophical Pantoum” from “Serious Concerns”.
    She’s also written vilanelles (for example, “Lonely Hearts” from her 1986 debut collection, “Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis”).
    Anyway; to inspire you (or repel you …):
    A Short Pantoum about Space
    No last-minute reprieves
    For Creation and stuff
    Space is being squeezed
    Making more’s kind of tough
    For Creation and stuff
    To get some more room
    Making more’s kind of tough
    Without another Big Boom
    To get some more room
    The Universe expands
    Without another Big Boom
    It’s got time on its hands
    The Universe expands
    Its heat dissipates
    It’s got time on its hands
    We are left to the fates
    Its heat dissipates
    Space is being squeezed
    We are left to the fates
    No last-minute reprieves

  17. HBP says:

    Along with almost everything that seems to be developing throughout this particular area, a significant percentage of opinions happen to be very refreshing. On the other hand, I beg your pardon, but I can not subscribe to your whole strategy, all be it exhilarating none the less. It looks to me that your commentary are not entirely validated and in simple fact you are generally your self not really entirely certain of the argument. In any event I did take pleasure in reading through it.

  18. Wale says:

    Oh.. this is poetic organic chemistry at it highest level..

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