Impressions from a Lost World: The Discovery of Dinosaur Footprints

The Geologist's Wife, by Anonymous (Susan?)

"Geologizing" had so invaded popular culture by the mid-nineteenth century that many a wife probably had similar experiences to "Susan." Girls and women went "geologizing," too, but were not so likely to go on extended field trips over days or weeks, especially without their husbands. The poem is dated 1847, at the time when the Bronte sisters began to publish their enormously popular novels, using male names because it was considered unseemly for women to publish. Thus, it is not surprising that this poem was published anonymously.

Note that the author is familiar with the work of James Hutton and mentions Glen Roy, famous for its so-called Parallel Roads, which geologists recognized as terraces but were as yet unable to explain. 

To her husband setting off upon an excursion

Adieu then, my dear, to the Highlands you go,

Geology calls you, you must not say no:

Alone in your absence I cannot but mourn,

And yet it were selfish to wish your return.

No, come not until you have searched through the gneiss,

And marked all the smoothings produced by the ice;

O’er granite-filled chinks felt Huttonian joy,

And measured the parallel roads of Glenroy.

Yet still, as from mountain to mountain you stride,

In visions I’ll walk like a shade by your side;

Your bag and your hammer I’ll carry with glee,

And climb the raised beaches, my own love, with thee.

Me, too, you’ll remember, for love claims no less,

And all your proceedings a fondness confess;

Each level you take, be it not from the sea,

But above the dear place where your Susan may be. 


Let everything mind you of tender relations—

See, even the hard rocks have their inclinations!

Oh, let me believe that, wherever you roam,

The axis of yours can be nowhere but—home! 


Suppose that you find on the mountains of Lorn,

A boulder that long since from Nevis was torn.

‘T will seem like that fond one who left his own shore,

“Perhaps to return to Lochaber no more.” *


As if, in your wanderings, you chance to be led

To Ross-shire or Moray, to see the Old Red,

Oh, still, as its mail-covered fishes you view,

Remember the colour is love’s proper hue.


Such being your feelings, I’ll care not although

You’re gone from my side—for a fortnight or so;

But know, if much longer you leave me alone,

You may find, coming back you have two wives of stone!

* The mention of Lochaber refers to an old song by Allan Ramsay for Scottish soldiers on foreign soil.