Two Poems — Us and Them

S K Bhatnagar

Shri S.K.Bhatnagar was born in 1937 and brought up at Beawar, Rajasthan. After post-graduation in Botany from Ajmer, he dabbled in agricultural aesearch for a couple of years and then became a lecturer for a short period. He started his career as a civil servant in the Rajasthan Administrative Service. He joined the Indian Revenue Service in 1961 and retired in 1999 as the President of the Customs Tribunal.

Shri Bhatnagar's interests lie in the field of biology, literature and mythology. Under the pen name of Santosh Ratan, he prefers to write on scientific topics in poetic format instead of prose. He likes to draw illustrations from Indian mythology and that too in both English and Hindi. He has published 6 books so far — two in English and four bilingually, including poems on the natural wonders of the world. One of his books, Jeev Jagat Ki Aadharshila has been published in paper format while the others are online at and


  1. Bio Clocks
  2. Curiosity

Bio Clocks

Mamma says cocks know when to crow
When it is time to get up and go
Get ready for the daily chores you know
Saints and scholars for prayer and lessons
Elderly ones for a morning walk with patience
Each one for his field of life time
Since old days when there was no clock to chime
Cocks have crowed faithfully the measure of time
Day after day, in or out of season all the time.

But how do they know when to crow?
What propels them and urges them to do so?
While the sky is still pretty dark
Studded with myriad twinkling stars
When Sapt rishis blessing bright Dhruv star
Are still seen moving on their destined path
And there is not yet a ray of light in the sky
Morning spectrum is not yet visible to the eye
How do cocks know it is time to crow?
And say good morning to all who care, so
As to get up get ready timely and to go
On their chore early, energized and more so.

Of course, it is seen and known since old days
That with the dawn the birds and others awake
Chirp chirp and fly away merrily to make
The most of all with which God has blessed their race
And so do dear deers and others of His make;
And with the falling dusk all creatures somehow know
It is time to return and rest in the nest or den or cave
Sleep, and have sweet dreams for all you know 
Till it is time again for the cock to crow.

But do plants also awake and asleep?
Fungi, bacteria, corals and others in the deep?
Do they also have a sense of time?
If not, how do they carry on all the time!
If yes, what is the secret of their life time?
It is not simply a curiosity of yours or mine
It has agitated Men from Plato’s time

Santosh ‘Ratan’


It is not simply a curiosity of yours or mine
it has agitated Men from Plato’s time
how many bio activities follow timely in cyclic order
days after days, months after months, year after year;
And even today we may ask              
how in the body of each of us
from unicellular prokaryotic bacteria
to multi cellular eukaryotic mammalia
all forms of life for billions of years have been
carrying on activities with precision we prize
repeating, cyclically, time bound time wise.

It appears scientists have now answers for
some of the questions we were looking for
having discovered a fascinating fact to tell
a bio clock ticks in our each and every cell
keeping time, synchronizing and ensuring
timely progression of processes, and besides
taking care of the cues which Nature provides.

Surprisingly in all the Kingdoms of forms of Life
Archaea bacteria protista animals, plants and fungi
up up the ladder right up to mammals on the high
It is the same amazing story to tell
for rhythmic time keepers ring the bell.

Breathing eating sleeping mating migrating hibernating
signaling germinating developing blooming fructifying
a multitude of processes living ones carry on in life
in which genetically controlled rhythms preside
for bio clock goes on oscillating all the while
without winding or battery or atomic device
from nona seconds to minutes, hours, days,
months, seasons nay years as they go by
it tick tocks all the time pulsating with life.  

There are genes in cells of yours and mine all right
called ‘Time genes’ such as “Clock”, “Period”,
and “Timeless”, which are very sensitive to light
and produce photosensitive Timekeeper proteins 
having the same name and oscillating all the time
interacting with each other and the parent genes
producing a signal which indicates the exact time
letting the organism adapt adjust and respond
promptly to environmental changes in good time.

These ‘endogenous’ ‘built in’ molecular clocks ‘entrain’ 
to adjust to various cues, and produce ‘self sustaining’
‘temperature compensated’ rhythms with precision
in cyclic order for specific periods for a length of time
and generate electric signals which are propagated
along bio chemical path ways enabling the system
to anticipate and get ready to meet the ‘day’
switching on or off essential processes on the way.

In many animals such as we ‘Men’
there is a ‘Master clock’ in the brain
in Hypothalamus at Optical Chiasma
a Supra Chiasmatic Nucleus — a ‘karishma’
of Nature, which receives signals from the eye
synchronises and passes them on to pineal body
for hormones to flow and affect physiological
processes we all carry on all the while;
then there are so many ‘Peripheral Clocks’
in each organ, apart from each cells own clock
all acting in unison to tell the time
and let our liver lungs heart or brain
and all other organs act in tune with time.

Indeed it is bio clocks which ensure that we
are ready to face challenges of life, in time
be it summer winter snow spring or rain
anticipate it and be ready to ‘entrain’
Simplest clocks are found in Cyan bacteria;
consisting of 3 protein products of 3time genes
interlocked in a feedback loop to ensure expression
of genes and products in such a timely rhythmic fashion
that it results in a 24 hour circadian cycle we may mention;
In insects like fruit flies bees and butterflies
these clocks are provided even in antenna
to make sure timely detection and action;
And In fungi they even ensure conidiation
at regular periodic intervals of fructification.

Ticking nonstop accurately for four billion years
the clocks in green cells have made sure that
plants are ready before dawn to greet the sun
so that photosynthesis begins right there and then
as soon as first ray of light alights from heaven.

In flowering plants they actually see to it that
their seeds germinate when conditions are right
and they bloom in spring when pollinators are
in abundance and also ensure that they are
ready to attract them by colour, form, nectar
or aroma at right time and win by love or war
Light actually acts as a major cue in all forms of life
and its intensity, frequency, wavelength or colour
brightness or even direction and duration matter
as bioclock ticks in harmony with light sensitive genes
and pigments such as phyto chromes and crypto chromes
which make Nature beautiful by adding colour to life.

In fact photoperiodism is an important factor in
initiating seasonal changes in plants and animals
including morphogenesis and flowering in plants
changes in singing of some birds, hormonal changes
in others and ensuring timely migration hibernation
and other responses in a variety of His creations.

Indeed as children we have all wondered:
How at the touch of a little finger
the leaflets of Touch-me-not ‘chuimui’
fold in a moment and then enjoyed
the sight of its recovery in a trice;
Darwin had also looked at this Mimosa
and observed, its leaves, even otherwise
fold at night and remain open in day and
sensed some time mechanism works inside.

How leaves of daisy keep flapping up and down daily
and its petals keep opening and closing rhythmically,
How kamal flower opens every morning with sun rise
and closes every evening surely with sunset time wise;
We all see every day how flowers of Sunday rose
greet office goers at ten o clock every morning
and Four o clock plant blooms every evening
always at the same time to welcome them home.

Raat ki rani blooms and spreads aroma at night
but pansies show off their colours in the day light
Oh! how Sun turner & Surajmukhi keep tracking
the direction of sun light from morning to evening;
Infact all plants flower only for a particular period
and time, and that too only during the season specified.

Koyal sings sweetly every year when mangoes bloom
fur coats of Russian rabbits change colour with season
Polar bears get ready in time to go for yearly hibernation
and Siberian geese know when it is time for annual migration
so do American butterflies, African antelopes season after season.

Examples can be multiplied a million fold
all of them interesting and good to behold
each and every one indicating we are told
that their bio clocks play an important role.

Indeed this fascinating phenomenon
has always attracted mankind’s attention
and Kalidas has so much charmed us
by his lovely poetic depiction
of geese flying high in formation
crossing narrow Himalayan passes
with ‘Meghdoot’ in northerly direction
but of course without realization
of bio clocks role in this annual Migration.

Santosh ‘Ratan’

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