To be a naturalist is better than to be a king,
Was first among the lessons of your boyhood to provide.
And such a way of living, in your restless reckoning,
Includes most every aspect of the world where you abide.
Your rhapsody was followed with a newly reasoned fear,
For all the fragile company that wilderness has bore,
And sad esteem for fossils, for thoughts remaining near
Of memories or species that are lost forevermore.
When you traversed a continent for pheasants and their homes,
To watch their lovesick sporting, and the colors it involved,
Did you consider other females reading of your roams,
And whether a man's wanderlust might likewise have evolved?
When you took wing above the front amid your biplane flock,
Did you remember what you wrote before the war began?
Your Mesozoic biplane, likely hidden in the rock?
The origins of flight, from Archaeopteryx to man?
When you and Otis Barton took your plunge below the waves,
And felt the mortal fear from many thousand feet of sea,
Did you reflect on sediment which might adorn your graves,
Preserving you like lithographs for all posterity?
And in your final decade at the Trinidad estate,
In search of understanding what you feared would vanish soon,
You must have hoped your history would share a fossil's fate,
And not the fate of woodland that you mourned at Kalacoon.
When scholars of ecology record their charges' lives,
When daring oceanographers descend beneath the blue,
And habitats are guarded, and pheasants court their wives,
For all that we have learned why do we not remember you?
But even things forgotten do not quickly disappear.
Tetrapteryx has gone, but its descendants fly above.
And journeys lost to history remain unnoticed near,
As memories that linger in the cote of every dove.