Outdoors Magazine

A Letter to the Earth from S. H. Knight, Mr. Geology of Wyoming

Posted on the 17 January 2014 by Hollis

A Letter to the Earth from S. H. Knight, Mr. Geology of Wyoming

Dr. Samuel H. Knight in 1916, his first year on the faculty at the University of Wyoming.  By the time he retired in 1966, he had taught an estimated 10,000 students.  American Heritage Center photo.


[Note to readers: this email message arrived yesterday.  I about fell over when I read it!]


Dear Madam:One of our recent arrivals lit up with delight when we were introduced, for he had read about me in a blog ... and of the fossilized Algal growths (stromatolites) of the high Medicine Bow Mountains.  I was quite surprised, pleasantly so, and I had to ask:  “What is a blog?”  He's still explaining.  It’s taking awhile as I knew nothing of the Web, the Internet, etc., but we don't mind.  We have plenty of time, an eternity in fact.He showed me your articles on his little computer, and though I still don't understand how they came to be, I am absolutely delighted!  Such lovely color photographs and so realistic!!  I sincerely hope that many many readers will not only enjoy these “posts” as they’re called, but also take the information, maps, etc., and go see for themselves.  Studying the remains of two-billion-year-old tropical algae in an alpine setting was for me one of the most exciting experiences during my life on Earth.My new friend also explained how I could contact you (with his help of course).  I am doing so in the hope that you will find of interest my poem about the Algal mats of the Medicine Bows.  It concluded the speech I delivered at ceremonies naming the “S. H. Knight Geology Building” on the University of Wyoming campus on August 2, 1974. Probably you will think it old-fashioned; after all, the lines do rhyme.  If you happen to like it, you are welcome to include it in your blog.  In any case we will continue to read In the Company of Plants and Rocks, so do blog on.  We have plenty of free time up here, and I’ve been told that our internet access is instantaneous and throughput infinite.
Sincerely,Samuel H. “Doc” KnightProfessor Emeritus, Department of Geology, University of Wyoming


[Doc Knight (if you happen to be reading this) -- I like the poem very much, and of course I want to share it!!]

A Letter to the Earth from S. H. Knight, Mr. Geology of Wyoming

"High near the crest of the Medicine Bows" in southeast Wyoming.

In commemoration of two billion year old Algal growth-patterns,Nash formation, Medicine Bow MountainsHigh near the crest of the Medicine BowsWhere an alpine meadow grows,Where columbines nod azure headsAnd purple gentians make their bedsFire-scarred trunks of fallen spruceLike giant jack-straws, scattered loose,Etched by blasts of driven snowAs seasons come and seasons go.

A Letter to the Earth from S. H. Knight, Mr. Geology of Wyoming

... and purple gentians make their beds


Things were not always thusTime has changed the Earthly crust,The crust was once an ocean floorTwo billion years ago -- and more.Bent and rent by crustal blowsMarred and scarred by glacial flows,Sculptured by erosion’s incisive knifeThe fossil remains of primal life.Patterns spun on algal loomsLocked forever in marble tombs,Nurtured in the ancient sea,Prophetic of the life to be.

A Letter to the Earth from S. H. Knight, Mr. Geology of Wyoming

... nurtured in the ancient sea, prophetic of the life to be.


[This poem was included in A Collection of Verse by Samuel Howell Knight, published by his children on September 1, 1974.]

A Letter to the Earth from S. H. Knight, Mr. Geology of Wyoming

Portrait of Doc Knight, from the University of Wyoming Geology Museum.


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