Iserson KV: Death To Dust: What Happens To Dead Bodies? Second
Galen Press, Ltd. Tucson, AZ, 2001, 821 pages.
In bodies left unprotected from the elements, "worms"
will indeed make their grand appearance and help nature return
them to dust. The "worms," however, are normally maggots,
and rather than "crawling in," they arrive airmail.
Forensic entomologists now use insect evidence to determine the
time of death and to help identify murderers.
Maggots were once thought to be a type of worm, and many writers
throughout the ages commented on the effect of "worms"
on the corpse. (See Chapter 14, Say It Gently.) Shakespeare, among
others, described man simply as "worms' meat." Similarly;
the Book of Job (24:20) records that "The worms shall feed
sweetly on him." The best known description of these "worms,"
however, was first penned in 1795 by M.G. Lewis, who wrote, "The
worms they crept in, and the worms they crept out, And I sported
his eyes and his temples about." This was modernized by British
soldiers during the Crimean War (1854-1856) and by unknown multitudes
thereafter, so that one twentieth-century version of the song
you ever think when a hearse goes by,
That you may be the next to die?
take you out to the family plot,
And there you wither, decay and rot.
wrap you up in a bloody sheet,
And then they bury you six-feet deep.
all goes well for a week or two,
And then things start to happen to you.
worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The ants play pinochle on your snout!
of the worms that's not so shy,
Crawls in one ear and out one eye.
call their friends and their friends' friends too,
They'll make a horrid mess of you!
then your blood turns yellow-green,
And oozes out like whipping cream. [Spoken] Darn, me without a
eyes fall in, your teeth fall out,
Your liver turns to sauerkraut.
never laugh when a hearse goes by,
For you may be the next to die.