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02 July 2015

Fossil


In this quiet inlet,
some eddy has collected
and drowned at the bottom
of the mire, now turned into marl,
enormous heaps of shells
of every shape and size.
It is a molluscs' burying ground
with hills for tumuli.

I dig up oysters a cubit long
and weighing five or six pounds a piece.
One could shovel up in the immense pile,
Scallops, Cones, Cylheridae,
Mactridae, Murices,
Turretellidae, Mitridae
and others too numerous,
too innumerable to mention

You stand stupefied before the vital ardour
of the days of old, which was able
to supply such a pile of relics
in a mere nook of earth.



Taken from an account by Jean-Henri Fabre on fossils in The Faber Book of Science edited by John Carey (Faber & Faber, 1995). Submitted by Taidgh Lynch.

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