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November 28, 2010
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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.
Another paleo-themed poem, about the early 20th century zoologist William Beebe. I’ve recently been reading a lot about how much of an impact Beebe had on several different areas of biology. Among his more notable contributions:
  • On an expedition across Asia to document the world’s pheasants, Beebe was the first person to document the mechanism by which sexual selection operates.

  • Beebe was one of the pioneers in the conservation movement of the early 20th century, particularly together with his close friend Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Beebe is the main person responsible for the idea that in order to have a complete understanding of animals, it’s necessary to study the entire ecosystem they inhabit, which is the foundation for the field of ecology.

  • In the 1930s, Beebe was the first person to descend into the deep ocean in a bathysphere, along with the bathysphere’s inventor Otis Barton.

  • In 1915, Beebe was the first person to propose the existence of leg-wings on the ancestors of birds. This prediction was confirmed by the discovery of Microraptor gui in 2003.

Yet for some reason, very few people nowadays know who William Beebe was. It seems very strange that history would have mostly forgotten him, and also a little unjust.

A few lines of this poem are direct references to famous things Beebe has written. The first line is one of Beebe’s most famous quotes, written by Beebe when he was 15. The last line of the poem is a reference to the conclusion of Beebe’s 1915 Tetrapteryx paper: “No fossil bird of the ages prior to Archaeopteryx may come to light, but the memory of Tetrapteryx lingers in every dove-cote.”
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2010  Professional General Artist
Beautiful. :heart:
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:icongodofwarlover:
godofwarlover Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2010
Nice poem
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