A Six-Legged Hiawatha

“Tribes of the Scale Wings,” an appallingly terrible poem by Edward Newman, 1857:

Let us take a stroll, my Laura,
Down Farm Lane and to the sedge pond,
Where thy father often fishes
For the pretty water beetles,
Grapii and branchiatus,
Hubneri and marginalis,
Agilis and punctulatus,
Ater, Sturmii and fusous,
Pretty Colymbetes fuscus,
That my Laura once caught flying.
Thence we’ll turn to rural Burnt Ash.
Haply we may meet with Stainton,
With his ardent class around him.
As we walk I’ll try and teach thee
Something more about the Scale Wings.
Lepidoptera, or Scale Wings,
Are the butterflies and night moths,
And we know them by the scaled wings,
And the mouth, so like a watch spring,
Coiled up underneath their faces …

[this goes on for nine pages]

… But their structure, so abnormal,
Serves to indicate the sequence
Of the Tipulæ or Craneflies,
Which we must ere long consider.
This discourse on Scale Wings ended,
I will pick these purple vetches,
Purple vetches, Vicia cracca,
And I’ll twine them in a chaplet,
And the Queen of Scale Wings crown thee.

Newman’s collection The Insect Hunters contains corresponding odes to the Diptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Stegoptera, Neuroptera, Hemiptera, and Orthoptera, including an affectionate nod to earwigs.