Saturday, October 08, 2005

Up from the Magma and Back Again

From Past lives: Chronicles of Canadian Paleontology at the Geological Survey of Canada's web page comes this article on

"Sarah Binks, The Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan".

Even though the poetry of Miss Binks touches the very geological soul of the province, her work has been sadly neglected by the government geologists at the Geological Survey of Saskatchewan -- possibly because of envy.

T. rex coprolite from Saskatchewan. The fossil equivalent of a Sarah Binks Poem?
As the founder of the geo-literary school of poetry, Sarah Binks, the Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan, naturally drew heavily on geological imagery in her writings. Paul Hiebert, her chronicler, pointed out that no lesser a person than the Literary Editor of The Horsebreeder's Gazette enthused about Sarah, "She expresses, not only the soul of Saskatchewan, but its very bones; the Jurassic, Triassic, or the plain Assic, are all there".

In her poetry we find geological themes mingled with rejected love in a characteristic Binksian manner:
Man, who is a creature of the moment jist,
Is yet a fossil in micaceous schist,
To-morrow's day, his bones are bleached and bent,
A something for the archeologist.

Man who has spurned and made my heart to hurt,
Is but a creature and thing of dirt,
A thing of mud, of clay, volcanic ash,
Old brick, cinders, broken cement, chert
Hiebert has difficulty maintaining a biographer's dispassion when he effuses over Sarah's epic poem "Up from the Magma and Back Again,"

"Those haunting lines ... express more than an oil well. They speak of us of the Upper Silurian. They speak to us of the Lower Galician. They speak to us of the Plasticine, the overburden, the underburden, the chert concretions, the Great Ice age. Nay, the whole super epic breathes in and breathes out the geological soul of Saskatchewan".

Further reading:

Hiebert, Paul.
1974: Sarah Binks. Oxford University Press.