I’m always delighted when I find unexpected treasures in the archives. In addition to the species lists, invoices, and specimen images common in natural history archives, one can find all manner of music, poetry, and comedy if one knows where to look. Many of our scientists and naturalists found themselves gripped by the Muse on long, cold nights in the field (or long, cold days in the office), and put pen to paper in order to view their science through the lens of art. Over the past few months I’ve been making notes whenever I come across a bit of verse in the collections – over the next few weeks I’ll bring you some of my favorites, starting with these three.
Alice Eastwood Acrostic, by Eunice Taylor (1940 ca.) From the Alice Eastwood collection.
Attuned as some rare violin to life,
Listening to and seeing Nature’s heart,
Interpreting her beauty and her art
Cherishing her mystery and her lore
Endowed with wisdom, kindliness and cheer.
Earth smiled triumphantly when you were born
And hailed you as her own beloved child
Saluting Canada’s proud gift, she gave
To California your spirit brave
Where she decreed that you should reign
O‘er all her giant trees and lovely flowers.
Oh! brighter is the world because of you
Disciple true, of Nature’s wondrous powers.
Untitled (early 20th century) From the B.W. Evermann collection.
I wish I was an eagle’s egg,
As stale as stale can be,
All cuddled down in a big old nest
In the top of a white oak tree.
Then when a greedy ‘ologist
Climbed up to me in glee,
I’d bust my nasty rotten self
And sprinkle him with me.
Yonder, by Arthur L. Bolton (1930 ca.) From the Bolton Family collection.
Yonder, where the spruces dwarft and aged,
Crouch beneath the overbearing snows,
Yonder, and beyond, where mountains soaring,
Bear the flush of early morning rose,
There, among the ptarmigan and willows,
Where Nature rests immaculate, sublime,
Shall I find a Peace at one with Heaven,
Shall I know the majesty of Time.
- Heather Yager, Archivist
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