The poem continues:
Just think of it! Moss on the vessel that lifted
The water I drank in the days called to mind
Ere I Knew what professors and scientists gifted
In the water of wells by analysis find.
The rotting wood fiber, the oxide of iron,
The water impure as the versed of Byron,
Are things I remember with tears in my eyes.
To tell the sad truth, though I shudder to think it,
I considered that water uncommonly clear.
And often at noon when I went there to drink it,
I enjoyed it as much as I now enjoy beer.
How ardent I seized, with the hands that were grimy,
And quick to the mud covered bottom it fell;
Then reeking with nitrates and nitrites, and slimy
With matter organic, it rose from the well.
Oh, had I but realized in time to avoid them,
The dangers that lurked in that pestilent draught,
I’d have tested for organic germs and destroyed them
With potassic permanganate ere I quaffed;
Or perchance I’d have boiled it and afterward strained it
Through filters of charcoal and gravel combined,
Or, after distilling, condensed and regained it
In portable form with the filth left behind.
How little I knew of the dread typhoid fever
Which lurked in the waters I ventured to drink;
But since I’ve become a devoted believer
In teachings of science, I shudder to think.
And now, far removed from the scene I’m describing,
The story for warning to others I tell,
As memory reverts to my youthful imbibing,
And I gag at the thought of that horrible well,
And the old oaken bucket, the fungus-grown bucket—
In fact, the slop bucket that hung in the well.
—J. W. Bayles