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.

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