Do Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk ?
Henry moves his vertebrates,
And Louis tunes his tunicates,
While Malcolm swims his sharks and skates
To battle Olaf’s ranks of starfish pawns.
Boris risks bacillus rods
To fight with Oskar’s fungal squads,
As Richard launches octopods
To counter Philip’s shrimp-less group of prawns.
So James arrays his gymnosperms,
Like Ferdinand his cyan germs,
And Otto’s nematody worms,
At Charles’ yet-to-be-discovered spawns.
I should point out that the title is a mnemonic for the Linnaean ranks of life: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus & Species. Actually, Domain is a relatively new addition, and plants have Divisions instead of Phylums (or Phyla if you’re a pedant), and the whole thing now looks hopelessly simplistic in the wake of cladistics, but it’s still a handy starting-point.