BLACK CAT POEMS
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Geology Made Easy
Katharine Lee Bates
I tell a tale which makes me pale
For its dismal recollections,
That coming classes may avail
Themselves of its inflections.
I conned the rocks with anxious eye,
A student meek and docile,
When a distant whisper floated by,
"Oh, come and be a fossil!"
Farewell to Cenozoic Age,
With all its toiling daughters!
Wise Time turned back his yellow page;
I swam in ancient waters.
And first I met in the aching void
The solemn Eozoon,
And only the stem of the salt Crinoid
Vibrated to my moan.
"I'm lonely in the world," I cried,
And shouted o'er and o'er,
But not a Rhizopod replied
From the silent Protozoa.
The Graptolite and the Trilobite
To a gladder temper won me,
But oh, for the Orthoceretite,
And the smile he smiled upon me!
"Thou Brachiopod, art mollusk or worm?"
I asked with a mixed sensation,
But I fled from the frivolous Placoderm,
Nor lingered for conversation.
I blushed to hear the Ganoid wail;
He sobbed, "I'm not a stoic,
And I've lost my vertebrated tail
In the early Mesozoic."
But I scoffed and longed for a Teliost,
With the most intense of wishes;
For my sympathies had all been lost
On those queer Devonian fishes.
The Belemnite and the Polyp weird
Exceedingly did act ill,
And from the Lepidodendron jeered
The bitter Pterodactyl.
I sought to rest on the marshy shore,
Where the Labyrinthodonts amble,
But I heard the hoarse Batrachian roar
'Neath a cryptogamic bramble.
Yet the sedimentary fear I name
And my igneous indignation,
By a metamorphic move, became
A quite distinct formation.
The beast I saw was shy and small,
No elephant or camel,
'Twas only a marsupial,
But oh! it was a mammal!
I leapt for joy, but hope deceives;
With heat he seemed to swelter,
The Cycad 'neath her fronded leaves
In vain proposed a shelter.
He scorned that generous Gymnosperm;
No Conifer revived him;
He vanished, never to return;
His jaw alone survived him.
The sombre Sigillaria sighed;
He would not linger for us,
And only to our calls replied
The winsome Ichthyosaurus.
"Too bad!" the Saurian murmured, "but
He'll surely come tomorrow;"
While down the drear Connecticut
The Dinosaur marched in sorrow.
But soon Herbivores arose,
Nor far behind the Lemur;
And some that had too many toes,
Which gave a proud demeanor.
But now I mourned my task begun,
The country grew so hilly;
I didn't like the Mastodon,
And found the glaciers chilly.
My gentle temper had been wrecked,
That used to be so placid.
I had a headache, the effect
Of much carbonic acid.
"My bones," I said, "from toil you can
Find only one vocation;
Before the coming Age of Man,
"A modest shale or argillyte
Would make the pleasing closet,
Or in a sober syenite
Your relics I'll deposit."
"Not so," says Fate; "you'll have to wait;
I can't accept your datum.
Geology prepares her late
And most distressing stratum.
"A future race shall seek your place,
Your geologic station,
And find your last imbedded trace
In the examination."
poems by Katharine Lee Bates