care | Books, Health and History

As the April showers (hopefully) die down, the May flowers will burst into bloom. The passing of this month means the end of April festivities, including National Poetry Month, and the beginning of May festivities, including National Dental Care Month. We're going to combine the two and include a poem from a dental caregiver.

Anterior model from the Ash & Sons catalog (1886)

John Thomas Codman (d. 1907) was an active speaker at dental gatherings. He is also one of the most prolific dental writers. But he wrote about more than just teeth and dental problems. Dr. Codman's work appeared in mass-market publications, and he described the cooperative community to which he belonged in his 1894 book, Brooke Farm, History and Personal Memoirs.

Codman exposed a sensitive issue when writing the article “Bad Breath.” When talking about this issue, he hinted that dentistry has a closer relationship with the human body. “I have to believe that this neglect is due to a lack of understanding of its primary causes, and a general lack of understanding of the interrelationship of all organs that work together to maintain and sustain life and the health of all our corporate frameworks . His words called for a comprehensive, holistic approach to the entire profession. Really, who knew one person could be so poetic about bad breath?

Well, if you attended the 1866 meeting of the American Dental Association, you would know. In the Doric Hall of the State House in Boston, Dr. Codman welcomed guests with a poem that recounted the birth and battles of our nation. These include dental puns and nods to popular Boston spots. He even managed to add a few pop culture references!

Today we bring you a slightly abridged version of this welcome poem.

Dentist welcome.

Welcome, knights of pliers and plugs,
Bay State invites her, embraces her, embraces her;
Her arms are open, her years are not short,
Her plaid may return to the blush;
Her dear sons, friends from near and far,
How welcome they were to her sheer impulse.

So, Western friends, please take a seat.
In the old capitol of this capital town;
In the hall of “gathering wisdom”,
When winter comes with flying sleet,
Leave only when the tubers start to grow,
Corn sprouts are too old for crows.

“Ecord, what is that thing hanging high in the air?
No wonder you stare, my professional friend;
This is the ghost of a fish, marinated for a long time and sold,
But its story never unfolds like that of Hamlet;
It's a pity that if he wants to blow,
and tell him of the following acts of which he is acquainted,
The “recently departed” squirms and squeaks,
Some of the heads, like the tails of wild dogs, drooped and limp;
He will prove to us all things we did not know before,
A man can only be made of his chin.

You friends from the East, when you step into the rotunda,
Do you still see the battle flag torn apart?
Revealed! Bow!Because those stains are blood stains
Those martyrs who fell in the fields and in the floods.
Ah! I can only blow the trumpet again
Awakening the lost people in the mountains and fields,
and reverse the tide of the nation’s great days,
With the stain on the slavery flag, say,
Who will make a sound? Is such a person living there now?
Then the muscles atrophy and the brows furrow;
His right arm was numb and withered by his tongue,
In the most cursed verses, let his name be sung.

Rest in peace, martyrs, the sound of battle has sounded,
Your feet are gentle on the shores of Elysium.

You come from the North, the East, the South and the “Far West”,
Our plans are ready, so join with enthusiasm.
This is the “cradle” of the Statue of Liberty, where babies rock,
The nurse was quite shocked by such a naked little thing.
She's grown quite a bit since then, you'd say,
Its size continues to increase with every day of flying.
She has a new member, as we all know,
President adds V. toes and V. toes daily.

There's Breed's Hill, called Bunker Hill, where the boys fight,
All that's left is a tiny mite,
There's a lot of rocks on it so it won't blow away in the wind,
In order to commemorate the running of the bulls festival at that time,
Only the bull didn't run that eventful morning,
The courage of the Yankee boys triumphed over the Bulls.

This is Harvard University, the famous “City of Learning”
To the lads who can keep the torch burning;
The poor must digest the teachings of the schoolmaster,
Press into the head and seat of the breeches.

This is Agassiz's Fish and Bones Museum,
There are birds and animals, plants, bones, stones,
There are many other things worth your attention,
As the auctioneer said, “Too many to list.”

This is natural history, with molluscs and “hard shells”
Pickled snakes in bottles, moldy specimens;
This is a good opportunity to “compare” owl mandibles,
the dodo, the eagle, and all kinds of domestic fowl;
Here you can sit on the “Push Bottom” and learn easily
Do walruses eat pork or elephant cheese?
These are molars, and they require huge tweezers to pull them out.
Get up, like drama, and cost infinitely.

But let us hurry now, the mastodon waits;
Imagine this creature wearing two pairs of skates,
Sliding on thick ice in the river;
If the cold weather makes his body tremble,
Yankees may 'guess' his most heartfelt shock
It was the touch of a long-remembered earthquake.
There are bird tracks here, huge “Shanghies”,
This allows the piglets to live tall and dry in the pig pen,
Swallow them whole without any protest,
Use plenty of paving stones for them to digest.

We'll look at hospitals, cities, and states;
Is it good luck or misfortune?
We don't need to seek or beg for privileges
Seeing a surgeon “turn a hand into a leg.”
If Paddy can joke like that, why can't I state
A broken arm is usually a problem with the humerus.

There are tons of paper and ink, it’s a pity to have too much.
Telling about all the wonders that can be seen in our cities;
So I won’t do that and let you explore on your own.
Place your treasures on a memory fair shelf.

And then comes the serious part, the serious discussion,
The collision of ideas causes severe shock;
The clamor of the clinic filled twenty chairs;
and the usual amount of split ends.
There is representative 1, wisdom is erratic,
And represents 2, with gavel attached automatically;
Like Uriah Heep, this is a chair that can tip over
From the majestic straight back to the most “clumsy” posture
But to make things equal and state it fairly,
The owner will definitely set up a “pile” next to his chair.


My welcome is over – I am tired of not being welcome –
I'm afraid I'm keeping you away from other desires.

Breathe the saltiest ocean air now,
Dip and splash in the deep lair of Venus;
The steamer is ready, we don't wait for the oars,
Play the sweetest music – the coast is far away!

Now let the cheerful laughter grow louder and louder,
The aroma of thick soup hits your nostrils;
There's padding to put in here – there's enough boards here
Keep the smart dentist going until the end of the year.
I say, he will succeed, his luck will win
Despite the water, its filling remains inside.

Full of hope for our future, for peace during our stay,
May the dental star rise high into the day,
is my wish; therefore, for joy,
I'm going to venture out and solve a little puzzle here.
Why I pray when the dentist is fishing,
Working in the industry he focuses on every day?
You said, you can’t guess, you, the cunningest fox——
Because he, not a stand-in, pulls out some skull pins.

A short poem by another dentist, Dr. Ferguson.

Some of Dr. Codman's other writings can be found in our collection. You can also find many poems written by medical professionals. If you would like to visit in person, please contact to make an appointment.

refer to:
“The John Thomas Codman Brook Farm Collection,” Harvard University Libraries,, accessed April 30, 2024.

Codman, John T. Foul smelling breath. Boston, 1879.

Codman, John Thomas. Welcome Poem: Dedicated to the Members of the American Dental Association. Boston: Wright and Porter, 1866.

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