The Head of Health and Human Services

after W.S. Gilbert’s “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General”

We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services,
We run a huge department rich in happy, helpful purposes.
We champion the charity, so noble, of Planned Parenthood,
Make sure that all are very well apprised of its apparent good.

We know the case of Merritt, Newman, Rhomberg and Daleiden*; we
Unpacked it most precisely in the presence of Joe Biden. He
Wants Orrick* at their sentencing to lash them with his vocal cord.
Why not? He serves Planned Parenthood as member of a local board.*

We follow in the footsteps of our excellent vice–president,
Whose name must claim the heart of every California resident.
In short, in our department rich in happy, helpful purposes
We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services.

In short, in our department rich in happy, helpful purposes
We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services.

Against the Little Sisters of the Poor our case was credible,
And promptly the Ninth Circuit Court pronounced it very edible:
They swallowed it with relish that reverberates historically.
How then could the Supreme Court have reversed them categorically?*

And when it comes to women’s bodies, basic human rights apply,
For babies come and babies go: they’re not in very tight supply.
In this we’re quite in step with other nations we should emulate;
And women in the workforce—that’s an asset we should stimulate.

We see that regulations on vaccines are followed to a tee,
Make sure that LGBT causes reign in perpetuity.
In short, in our department rich in happy, helpful purposes
We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services.

In short, in our department rich in happy, helpful purposes
We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services.

Our underlings are awed by our economy and law degrees,
Which aren’t the same as some suspicious, science–centered straw degrees.
We’re steeped in battles bearing on the bulging budget deficit,
Therein exhuming data that for human health are requisite.

So when we’ve made the measure of tobacco smoking’s ravages,
Delved into the destruction done by rich drug–dealing savages,
Confronted rising rates of deep depression and teen suicide,
Reviewed as many cases as we’re able, leaving few aside,

We might befit this office. Right this moment we’re at such a loss;
For State, we’d gladly give it up—it wouldn’t be that much a loss;
But still, in our department rich in happy, helpful purposes
We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services.

But still, in our department rich in happy, helpful purposes
We are the very humble head of Health and Human Services.



William Orrick III: United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California since May, 2013. No discussion between Biden and Becerra on this matter is presumed actually to have occurred.

Sandra Merritt, Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, and David Daleiden: principal members of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a group formed in 2013 to record as citizen journalists and publicize through the release of several video recordings purported profit–making intentions and actions on the part of Planned Parenthood. The four face numerous civil and criminal charges. Planned Parenthood’s case against the CMP is currently under appeal at the Ninth Circuit. (Christopher Hite, San Francisco Superior Court, is the presiding judge in the criminal case.

Local Board: To clarify: Orrick was (and for all I know may be still) a board member and secretary of Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, an entity that hosted a Planned Parenthood clinic, rent–free. In any case, Orrick and his wife are long-term supporters of Planned Parenthood, despite which he refused to recuse himself in the case of CMP. Orrick has also established pro-bono legal teams to litigate against pro–life legislation in several states.

The Little Sisters of the Poor: an international Catholic congregation of mendicant women with communities in several states, including California. In 2018-19, as California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra argued successfully that the Little Sisters was required to furnish birth control as part of its health plan for their employees under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court, having ruled 7-2 in favor of the Little Sisters in a similar case brought by the state of Pennsylvania, later vacated the judgment and remanded the California case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for further consideration.



Julian D. Woodruff, who contributes poetry frequently to the Society of Classical Poets, writes poetry and short fiction for children and adults. He recently finished 2020-2021, a poetry collection. A selection of his work can be read at Parody Poetry, Lighten Up Online, Carmina Magazine, and Reedsy.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to mbryant@classicalpoets.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.


10 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    Great job — I love the hilarious rhymes. You make many good points about PP, too.

  2. Brian Yapko

    I’m a big G&S fan and you did them proud with some very clever, tricky rhymes. Very fun, very astute.

  3. Gail

    Excellent fun! G & S is the only thing that can pitch my younger daughter straight into hysterics. And, for that, I am grateful. And thank you, too, Julian.

  4. Jeff Eardley

    Julian, this is a work of genius that is crying out for some US G&S society to place on YouTube. I enjoyed reading, and singing this, immensely.

  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thanks, the 4 of you for your appreciative comments.
    Jeff, the knaves and villainess mentioned here richly deserve the kind of treatment you suggest. May everyone who reads this pray for the eventual dismissal of all charges against the true public servants of the CMP.

  6. Margaret Coats

    Julian, you’ve once again shown your most remarkable talent for using a given musical meter (and a difficult one) to frame a poem. And the subject is a difficult one, which you’ve presented effectively. I am very much with you on the need for prayer. Still, the abysmal legal and societal corruption you’re dealing with seems far beyond the incompetence Gilbert and Sullivan were satirizing. The “strategy” of the learned but stupid major general may have led to the deaths of private soldiers, but you’re talking about a society that has accepted killing its own children as good, and has gone on to lifetime persecution of persons who have merely shown there to be unconscionable profit in this perceived good. The fury of Planned Barrenhood shows that David Daleiden and his associates have indeed wrecked its reputation, and we can only hope they recover personal freedom while the safely anonymous abortionists get richer and their high-profile lawyers move up to the highest positions in the nation. That was quite a topic to take on!

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Julian, this is a tour de force of a poem that is an absolute treat to read. Firstly, the painstaking attention to poetic detail is admirable – your musical background is most certainly evident. The rhyming is spot on and I love it – ‘to a tee/in perpetuity’ being but one of my favorites. Secondly, the form you have chosen to get a very serious point across is a master stroke. You manage to thoroughly entertain while relaying an unpalatable message that everyone should be aware of. You had me smiling and toe-tapping to the beat while gasping in horror at how depraved our society has become. Very well done, indeed. I have only one complaint… I wish I had written it.

  8. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thank you, Margaret and Susan, for your encouraging comments. I admit, Margaret, that I’m at least flirting with bad taste in addressing this deadly situation in such a flippant manner. (I have a lighter alternative to the penultimate stanza.) Nevertheless, I hope I have prompted some to think about how they might use the pen to skewer the all too many likes of those I’ve spotlighted here.
    Maybe partly to atone for any excesses here, I’ve started a poem about Medea. It will be serious, though I hope not heavy. Such projects always spell trouble for me, but we’ll see …

  9. [name redacted]

    Disgusting. Eugenics programs have no place in poetry, save for being reviled.

    • The Society

      Mr. Anonymous Commenter,

      You seem to have misread the poem. It is a satire, meaning that it has exactly the opposite meaning of what you seem to think.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.