Leaving Gondwana

Now all alone, north-east it slowly drifts.

Just inch by inch the mighty mass it slides.
An island of gigantic size — it shifts,
As on its shores now beat the timeless tides.
Upon a sea of molten rock it glides;
It slips — it’s driven by a starry force —
An engine that within its body hides,
Propelling it far from its primal source.
It journeys on a strange uncharted course,
Escaping from its motherland; its home
Now far behind, yet it feels no remorse —
Young continents, like children, tend to roam.
No trail it leaves; there is no wake to west.
It never tires, and never will it rest.

by D.N. O’Brien

Copyright © 2019 D.N. O’Brien


We dug deep
to explore all the layers of us
and to expose them one by one
The outer curst was solid first
with rigid tectonic plates
We used to wear them as masks

But underneath things were more liquid
And hidden undercurrents
and seismic waves could make
the upper layers shake

We dug even deeper
And the deeper we went
the more the temperatures increased
The magnetic fields pulled us
Forces we couldn’t resist

Until we reached
the deepest depth of love
And we both melted
in hot burning magma
that could only go up
In a fountain of lava
the volcano erupted


‘A Morning on Alp Lusgen’ (1892)

Unplanted groves! whose pristine seeds, they say,
Were sown amid the flames of nascent stars—
How came ye thence and hither? Whence the craft
Which shook these gentian atoms into form,
And dyed the flower with azure deeper far
Than that of heaven itself on days serene?
What built these marigolds? What clothed these knolls
With fiery whortle leaves? What gave the heath
Its purple bloom—the Alpine rose its glow?
Shew us the power which fills each tuft of grass
With sentient swarms?—the art transcending thought,
Which paints against the canvas of the eye
These crests sublime and pure, and then transmutes
The picture into worship? Science dumb—
Oh babbling Gnostic! cease to beat the air.
We yearn, and grope, and guess, but cannot know.


by the Victorian physicist John Tyndall, a keen mountaineer, addressing the Alpine landscape that he loved.

Notably, Tyndall proved the connection between CO2 and atmospheric heating, which we now know as the Greenhouse Effect.


Unimaginably ancient, preserving moments in time;
billion year old pebbles from unknown floods
bones fallen into an ancient abyss
ten thousand year old footprints along an English estuary.
Sitting on a rock, you touch time.

Rocks move. They melt and set, erode to dust
and then the dust settles
forms new rock over time almost unimaginable.
This undulating plain formed at great depths
was thrust up to mountainous heights
now lies placid for your walking comfort.

Go find a rock
and travel in time and space.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond


There is stone in me that knows stone,
Substance of rock that remembers the unending unending
Simplicity of rest
While scorching suns and ice ages
Pass over rock-face swiftly as days.
In the longest time of all come the rock’s  changes,
Slowest of all rhythms, the pulsations
That raise from the planet’s core the mountain ranges
And weather them down to sand on the sea floor.

Remains in me record of rock’s duration.
My ephemeral substance was still in the veins
of the earth from the beginning,
Patient for its release, not questioning
When, when will come the flowering, the flowing,
The pulsing, the awakening, the taking wing,
The long longed-for night of the bridegroom’s coming.

There is stone in me that knows stone,
Whose sole state is stasis
While the slow cycle of he stars whirls a world of rock
Through light-years where in nightmare I fall crying
“Must I travel fathomless distance for ever and ever?”
All that is in me of the rock, replies
“For ever, if it must be: be, and be still;

by Kathleen Raine