"The Microscope" is a poem about Anton Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch businessman who sold items such as pincushions and cloth. His fellow Dutchmen criticized him for his scientific pursuits. Leeuwenhoek was not interested in his business, and therefore the goods he sold "gathered dust" as he engaged in scientific activities. The poem highlights Leeuwenhoek’s contributions to the field of microscopy.
According to the poem, Leeuwenhoek neglected his job and instead focused on grinding microscope lenses. Because of his curiosity and love for science, he used the lenses to examine different life forms and parts of life forms, such as mosquito wings, fish scales, spiders, sheep hair, and louse legs. In addition, Leeuwenhoek closely examined the skin of dogs, mice, and humans, as well as "a little smear / of his own blood." Most significantly, he examined the microscopic insects living in a drop of water.
Instead of appreciating his scientific discoveries, however, Leeuwenhoek's fellow Dutchmen contemplated shipping him to Spain. For instance, Leeuwenhoek stated that he had examined "a housefly's brain" and that the water he and his countrymen drank was "full of bugs." Most of Leeuwenhoek's contemporaries in the Netherlands didn't believe in these discoveries and thus thought the scientist was a madman or a fool. Despite being criticized for his actions, Anton Leeuwenhoek became a pioneer in microscopy.