Impressions from a Lost World: The Discovery of Dinosaur Footprints

The Sandstone Bird, by Edward Hitchcock

This is the first verse of a much longer poem Edward Hitchcock sent to Benjamin Silliman in 1836, soon after publication of his first article on fossil footprints. While Silliman had in the past occasionally published poetry he thought relevant enough to the sciences, he had backed away from the practice by this time and suggested that Hitchcock send it to a literary magazine instead. Edward followed his advice, and the poem was published in The Knickerbocker that December, the same publication that had ridiculed him for his "bird tracks" just a few months previously. 

A thousand pyramids have moulder’d down,

Since on this rock thy foot-print was impressed;

Yet here it stands unaltered : though since then

Earth’s crust has been upheav’d, and fracture’d oft;

And deluge after deluge o’er her driven,

Has swept organic life from off her face.

Bird of a former world! – would that thy form

Might reappear in these thy former haunts!

O for a sorceress nigh, to call thee up

From thy deep sandstone-grave, as erst of old

She broke the prophet’s slumbers! But her arts

She may not practice in this age of light.