Forty days of rain were not enough
to drown the world; God added forty nights.
Forty thieves made Ali Baba rich.
For Milgram, forty myrmidons set free
the psyche's dark; but forty more times three,
to tell him when and why, must push the switch.
At forty Sigmund Freud turned on the lights.
Wagner and Verdi began to strut their stuff.
Nightingale commenced her nursing school.
Nabokov first in English moved a Knight.
Forty bears no curse of baleful might;
the number marks no barrier, but a tool.
The birthday's but a passing paper date,
proclaiming "Time to start" and not "Too late."
Alan C. Elms
Written in 1978; first published here in 2000.