Valentine, By a Palaeontologist

Edward Forbes

Edward Forbes

Edward Forbes (1815 – 1854), former President of the Society, was apparently a bit of a dabbler in poetry. His ‘Valentine, By a Palaeontologist’ was read at a GSL dinner on 14 February 1845, by which time Forbes had given up his role as curator of the Society’s museum to become a palaeontologist for the Geological Survey of Great Britain.

Of the poem, he wrote to Lord Kelvin “Look at the last Literary Gazette for a song of mine. Buckland amusingly enough quoted it in full at the geological anniversary dinner yesterday, not knowing the author. De la Beche afterwards, in returning thanks for the Survey, wickedly proclaimed that it came from our staff, and urged it as a proof that any sort of article could be produced in the Museum of Economic Geology.”

Valentine, By a Palaeontologist

Borne upon Pterodactyle’s wing,
This heart, which once you deemed of stone,
Model of maids, to thee I bring,
And offer it to thee alone!
Not Owen, pondering o’er bone
Of great Dinornis, fonder grew
Of mighty wingless birds unknown,
Then I, sweet maid, of you.

The Glyptodon, which Darwin found
Beside the South Atlantic main,
Was in no harder armour bound
Than that my spirit did enchain;
Till, bade by thee, Love rent in twain
The fetters which my fancy tied
To boulder, glacier, and moraine,
And bore me to thy side!

Like some fantastic Trilobite
That perished in the Silurian sea,
And long lay hid from mortal sight,
So was the heart I yield to thee.
Now from its stony matrix free,
Thy palaeontologic skill
Once more hath call’d it forth to be
The servant of thy will.

Edward Forbes (1815 – 1854)

4 thoughts on “Valentine, By a Palaeontologist

  1. Excellent poem, I’ve not come across this one! Songs and poems were a continuous theme up to the 1960’s in the Survey. In Edinburgh we have a full record of all the songs, poems and recitations created by the geologists and performed by them at the annual geologists dining club called ‘The Grizzly Bears’. There was even a constitution for the club which is preserved. Membership seemed to be quite open though the Director of the Survey was not eligible!

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