Introduction

The poem ‘The Vet’ is written by the poet Guy Boas. The poet says that there are many species of animals on the planet and we do not know about many of them. To be a successful and competent veterinary doctor, one must have wide knowledge about the animals because each patient will suffer from different diseases.

Explanation

Stanza 1

To be a successful and competent vet,
Needs knowledge exceedingly wide,
For each of the patients he’s likely to get
Possesses a different inside.

The poet says that if a person wants to become successful and competent (efficient and capable)then he must gain excessively vast knowledge. This is because if a person becomes a vet, he must keep in mind that every patient that visits will have a different inside, that is every animal has differently structured parts inside its body.

Stanza 2

He must know why the cat is refusing her milk,
Why the dog is not eating his bone,
Why the coat of the horse is not shining
like silk,
Why the parrot does nothing but groan;

The poet states that the Vet must have knowledge of why the cat is refusing her milk or why the dog has stopped eating bone or why the horse’s hair and his body (coat) is not shining like silk and why the parrot is doing nothing but cry. In short, the poet is saying that the vet must have the knowledge of every illness an animal can or may have.

Stanza 3

Why the ducks and the chickens are failing
to lay,
Why so faint the canary bird sings,
And if he is called to the zoo, he must say
An incredible number of things.

The poet further continues that the vet must know why the ducks and chickens are not being able to lay eggs, why the canary bird sings so faintly. The poet then says that if the vet is called to the zoo then he must be efficient in his work and explain the illness properly.

Stanza 4

If the lion’s caught a cold,
If the zebra’s getting old,
If the centipede has trouble with his feet,
If the hippo’s feeling ill,
If the bison’s got a chill,
If the Arctic fox is suffering from heat,

The poet says that the Vet if he comes into the zoo, must know a lot many things than he is expected to tell them every detail if the lion’s sick if the Zebra is getting old if the centipede ( a worm-like tiny creature with many legs ) is having trouble walking if the hippo’s ill if the bison ( American buffalo ) is feeling cold and if the Arctic Fox is suffering from fever. Things like these can only be understood by a Vet and no other man so the poets want the vet to tell every detail of the illness these animals are suffering from.

Stanza 5

If some virulent disease
Has attacked the chimpanzees,
If the tortoise hasn’t stirred for several years,
If the bear’s too full of buns,
If the cobra eats her sons,
If the panther has a wife who chews his ears;

The poet then mentions if there is a contagious disease spread among the chimpanzees if the tortoise has not moved for many years if the bear has eaten too much and is too stuffed by buns if the cobra ate the bear’s children if the panther has a wife and she chews his ears. The poet wants the vet to inform why these animals are behaving in this unusual manner.

Stanza 6

If giraffes have had a tiff
And their necks are feeling stiff
If hyenas will not laugh at keepers’ jokes,
If the monkey’s pinched his tail,
If the rhino’s looking pale,

The poet further talks about the Giraffes quarrelling due to which their necks are stiff if the hyenas have stopped laughing at the zoo keeper’s jokes if the monkey hurt his tail if the Rhino is looking pale. The poet wants the vet to examine every little detail of the animal’s unusual behaviour and tell the zookeepers about and give them a solution of how to cure their illness.

Stanza 7

If the elephant eats paper-bags and chokes,
If the camel hurts his hump,
If the kangaroo won’t jump,
If the crocodile turns cannibal and bites,
They run away and get
That omniscient, the vet
And expect him to put everything to rights.

If the elephant eats paper bags causing his throat a blockage and he chokes, if the camel’s hump hurts, if the kangaroos are not able to jump, if the crocodiles have become wild and bite any human. When anything like the above incidents occurs, the zookeepers tend to run and find the vet whom they consider as omniscient (one who knows everything) and expect the Vet to fix everything and make it right.

Stanza 8

Profoundly I pity the vet, who must learn
Such a very great deal for his pay;
My son, I advise you most strongly to earn
Your living an easier way.
Don’t attempt to attend the zoological crowd;
a far more advisable plan
Is to call yourself ‘Doctor’, and so be allowed
To treat the illnesses of man.

The poet in the last paragraph expresses pity on the vet as he must learn to keep everything in mind and learn just for a little salary. The poet then advises the reader and calls them “son” and asks to find a better and easier way to earn for living as the job of a Vet is too complicated and difficult. The poet instructs us to not attempt to try to see patients from zoos or anything that is not human. If someone really wants to be a doctor and is called a “Doctor” it is better to be a human doctor than a Vet.

Conclusion

The poem is a light-hearted one, the poet here is not trying to discourage the youth but he wants the readers to realize how difficult it is to be a successful vet because he should have a wide knowledge of animals and birds. His patients are different inside. They are not able to speak or voice their problem. They cannot communicate their problem clearly. They have different types of size of organs inside the body. Their pain and agony are different from human beings. They might need emotional or physical support which can be identified by a really skilful vet. Thus, we must acknowledge all and respect the vet.