Benzene

By Paul Board( 1999?)

 

 Benzene! Benzene! Burning bright
Belching engines day and night (1)
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame Kekulé's symmetry? (2)
Who'd have thought your Carbon Six
Could have produced such toxic tricks
Or provide the building blocks
For a plastic world (and cure the pox)?
Aesthetic, perfect aromatic
Substitutes produce chromatic
Dyes that brighten every day. (3)
Thankyou Mr Faraday. (4)
Clothe our backs (5) and cure our ills
Blow or dull our brains with pills (6)
Ironic that your homologues
Pollute our land and stock our smogs (7)
Benzene - your hydroxyl daughters
Need locking up, they pollute our waters (8)
Adding chlorine provides persistence (9)
(Target organs keep your distance).
Doubt Kekulé ever dreamt
Of such riches (or torment).
Oh benzene whether bound or free
Did He who made the Lamb make Thee ?
Benzene! Benzene! Burning bright
Belching engines day and night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame Kekulé's symmetry ?
(1) Benzene is a significant constituent of petrol
(2) Friedrich August Kekulé (1829 -96) is attributed with elucidating the symmetrical ring structure of benzene C6H6 , claiming as an old man that the idea of the carbon chain had first occurred to him in the summer of 1854 on top of a London omnibus, although the matter remains controversial
(3) Many synthetic dyes are based on substituted benzene molecules such as aniline,C6H5NH2
(4) His portrait used to be found on the back of an old UK twenty-pound note. He has since been replaced by Edward Elgar, who, interestingly, also practised chemistry as a pastime. If you can get to London, England, you can see Michael Faradays laboratory too, just off Piccadilly, at the Michael Faraday Museum (alternatively, visit the Royal Institution's website www.ri.ac.uk ).
(5) Benzene is used in the production of artificial leather.
(6) Benzene is used in the manufacture of medicinal chemicals.
(7) Benzene is a known carcinogen and can pollute both the air we breathe and the land we live on.