Wednesday, 10 November 2010

No Vestige of Beginning! No Prospect of an End!

A song inspired by James Hutton, written by Oskar Lindenmayer

The mind of every man aboard this boat will be unfenced,

Though they’re doubtful what I’ll show them will convince them of my sense.

We’re headed out upon the waves a treasure trove we seek

Not gold or jeweled bracelets, but the proof of time most deep.

When years ago I traveled south and worked upon the land

I planted crops in springtime midst the hills, rolling and grand.

I watched my precious soil carried off by floods and rain

And wondered just how many times a flood had done the same.

For if my hills denuded annually, as such one might expect

Then I’d soon run short on soil and my crop growing prospects.

So I reasoned that new soil was eroded from the rock

And was both carried in and carried out maintaining gain and stock.

But where then did this dirt end up? Of course it went downhill,

And into flowing rivers, never resting, not until

Its journey’s end, or so I thought, was deepest oceans floor,

With this in mind, I went on planting, and for years I thought no more.

Then later in the highland peaks that rise above the land,

I chanced upon a seashell buried in a rock of sand.

How it came to be in mountains high I hadn’t but a clue,

Unless the mountain once was sea bed, though that went ‘gainst all I knew.

But what else could bring these shells, for more and more I found,

From the depths of deepest ocean to so high above the ground.

And the rock itself was made of sand, the link formed in my mind

My highland stone and weathered farming soil were of a kind!

Whatever force had driven those shells up out of the water,

Had fused the sand and formed new land, I beheld erosion’s daughter!

But then I realised the implications, Good grief! I must be wrong!

For such sediment's depth below me would have taken far too long

To accumulate from river flows, why millions of years would be needed,

But with no way 'round I must take what I've found and insist that my findings be heeded.

And so on this fine day, we paddle away in our boat, in search of an outcrop

And I see what I seek, there's no time to be meek and so boldly I call for a stop.

On the cliffs up above a formation displayed that promises to shatter their normity,

'My friends', I exclaim, 'Have you changed what you claim, now you've seen angular unconformity?'

I am supposed to be studying for my exams, not writing songs about the findings of James Hutton, who was the pioneer of uniformitarianism. Nevertheless, I think I did a pretty good job of it and it kind of counts as studying, sort of, maybe, a bit. The tune I was thinking of was the one that seems to be used in all musicals where instruments accompany someone talking purposefully without drawing attention to themselves.

All for now,



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