Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Alfred Russel Wallace collected this specimen of
an adult male Red Bird of Paradise, Paradisea rubra.
Museum Victoria (Australia), Ornithology Collection. Photographer: Rodney Start.

I first read this poem in a natural history museum, where I worked awhile ago.

In a Museum
by Thomas Hardy


Here’s the mould of a musical bird long passed from light,
Which over the earth before man came was winging;
There’s a contralto voice I heard last night,
That lodges with me still in its sweet singing.


Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird
Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending
Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that I heard,
In the full-fuged song of the universe unending.

From Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems (London: Macmillan, 2001).


  1. #1 Katie
    April 21, 2006

    Sad, but beautiful.

  2. #2 biosparite
    April 21, 2006

    Thanks for the Hardy poem. Did you see the account of Hardy’s using a trilobite fossil as a symbol in one of his stories as related in TRILOBITE: EYEWITNESS TO EVOLUTION by Richard Fortey? If you have not that Fortey book, it should be on your want list.

The site is currently under maintenance. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.