Riddle of the Sphinx

I thought myself an orphan
I clawed my way up from the streets
To earn the rank of doctor
Equal to any I should meet
I couldn’t know my fame
Arose from sly Olympian winks
And soon I’d match myself
Against the riddle of the Sphinx

Four legs in the morning
Two legs in the day
Three legs in the evening
As body and mind decays

A mad disease
Striking poverty
In the slums no-one cares about
In its host
Causes rapid growth
In a week they shall die
Infants then
Look as aged men
But have not learned the words to shout
An old withered corpse yet a child


Many years I spent
In experiment
Dissecting its chemistry
Endless tests
Finally yield success
With the compounds I need
A consequence
Baleful oxidants
Of Olympian eternity
They need to know what it leads to


Come don’t make a fuss
Your research takes a dangerous path
Take a pause
Find another cause
This will end in your fall
Whoe’er you be
If you threaten me
I warn you will feel my wrath
Don’t interfere with my calling


Soon the Olympians knew
Just what their immortality cost
They feigned their contrition
Mourning the lives that had been lost
They swore they’d find a way
That wouldn’t lead to loss of life
They showered me with riches
And introduced me to my wife