THE ART OF NURSING
(Just thinking about what nursing must have been like in the days of Florence Nightingale)

The air within must be as crystal pure
As the air without. The careful nurse
Will not let the room become a sewer;
She'll banish lidless chamber pots and curse
All fumigations leaving air far worse,
And will allow the outer atmosphere
In every corner of the room. The hearse
Will cart no body to its wooden bier,
That breathes at night the best and purest air.

Fear of surprise and expectation,
To one brought face to face with his great foe,
Does far more harm than any exertion.
Of this you can be certain: you can throw
Him into an excited state, and lo,
More lasting harm than from a noisy blare,
Will he then suffer. All smart nurses know
The sine qua non of all good nursing care:
Never arouse one sleeping from his lair.

A woman is unfit in the sickroom,
She shuffles and waddles in her dress;
Is it too much to ask, when mid the gloom
She have a firm light, quick step? I would guess
A man could cross the floor and shake it less.
To nurse is not a woman's right by birth -
If female ink bottles seek to impress
The value of a woman's particular worth:
Tread softly near the sick and bring forth mirth.

Always encourage the patient to talk.
Show no signs of hurry and never speak
From behind - or from the door, lest he should lock
His feelings in. With whom then shall the weak
Share their sickly burden? No good nurse will seek
To disturb the gravely ill at bedtime.
The quiet must not be broken by a creak,
For if disturbed, the risks increase by nine
The old grim reaper will not bide his time.

Pay great heed to a sick patient's fancies.
He'll tell you what he needs to get well;
If he wishes, give him butternuts and pansies,
Or other pretty objects for his cell -
But, give them only when he rings the bell,
Lest he should fall faint or even gravely ill.
So, introduce things slowly, always quell
The tumult of his soul and then fulfill
Your every nursing duty with great skill.

The very weak can't eat before eleven.
They shouldn't see or smell another's food.
If they so much as see food being given
To others - to be frank it would be rude -
No exception can be made lest it intrude,
As breaking this rule always induces
An undesirable change in one's mood.
It is better by far to give juices,
Than risk the side effects food produces.

The only way to nurse a sick patient
Is to have an iron bedstead with springs -
Narrow, so that it will be efficient
With no worry to the comfort it brings.
The patient need not be restrained with strings -
The really ill do not stray far in bed.
To prevent severe injuries and such things, The bed should not be higher, it is said,
Than a cot - lest it feed his daily dread.

Direct sunlight is so purifying.
Plants always make their way towards the light;
Almost all patients can be seen trying
To turn their heads towards that healing sight -
Use curtains for the day and blinds at night.
If dust can't be removed with a damp cloth,
It must never be removed, lest it might
Pollute the air - contaminate the broth.
An unhealthy room and illness are betrothed.

The function of the skin is all awry
In almost all diseases, it is shown;
And nature there relieves her dank supply.
The skin should therefore be cleaned to the bone.
Unwashed, more is risked than loss of tone -
Poisoning, as sure as that by other means,
But, slower, with an action of its own.
Washing restores the body's filtering screens
And brings enormous comfort as it cleans.

In conclusion, a good nurse should be
One who can always be depended upon -
Capable, no gossip, no vain talker she -
But strictly sober with more brains than brawn.
But, more than this, she must be God's own pawn,
For in her hands he places precious life.
How remarkable, that this gentle swawn -
Not being much more capable than a wife,
Should choose to live in endless strife.