Not Forgotten

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Agahnim's avatar

Literature Text

Be peaceful, sleeping dragon, and sleep well,
And may your slumber bring you pleasant dreams.
Reality is harsher than it seems,
But dreaming visions do not have to tell
That when you go to sleep tonight you never shall arise.
The downy quilt of ash will keep you warm,
And also grant you rest without an end,
Your silence from the eons to defend,
And perfectly preserve your sleeping form,
So you are not forgotten, for your shut-forever eyes.

Take heart, devoted parent, guard your nest,
And may your care protect it from the storm.
Be steadfast as you watch the land transform,
And thus is your fidelity expressed,
Although your dedication's goal you never shall attain.
When rapid flows of sand begins to rise,
You still preserve your unborn progeny,
As you are joined with them eternally,
Recording what your honor must comprise,
So you are not forgotten, though your nurture was in vain.

Be bold, courageous hunter, seek your prey,
Although it is a dark and stormy night,
And on the sliding hillside where you fight
Are dangers that exist no other day,
And which no prey or predator is able to outrun.
Against your hunger fear can make no gain,
Your claws do well to hold your quarry still,
Are held more firmly by the shifting hill,
To set in stone what danger you disdain,
So you are not forgotten, for your battle lost and won.

Be patient, wise explorer, search the field,
And do not overlook what may be there,
For any tooth or fragment in your care
Might cause a hidden tale to be unsealed,
And help you in your duty of remembering the dead.
The citizens of eras that are old
Have lived their lives, and perished in the act,
But still their marks on time remain intact,
Awaiting one whose wisdom could behold.
You must assist their stories to be told,
So they are not forgotten, for the purposes they led.
Something I’ve believed for a while is that one of the most important benefits that can exist for anyone is to be remembered for a long time after one’s death. I think this is the closest thing to immortality that’s possible, and it happens more the more a person has accomplished. People like Leonardo da Vinci and William Shakespeare are essentially immortal, in that their work (and by extension, their personalities) are still well-known despite them having been dead for hundreds of years, and are probably going to remain that way for as long as humanity exists.

I’ve recently realized that I feel the same way about paleontology. It isn’t just people who deserve to be remembered in proportion to how important they were; I think the same thing is also true of extinct animals. I feel this way especially strongly for animals whose fossils preserve what they were doing at the moment that they died. In this poem, the first stanza refers to Mei long, the second refers to Citipati, and the third refers to the fighting Velociraptor specimen.

This poem has some parallels to Their Marks on Time, which was one of my first dinosaur poems. After I’d finished the current poem, I realized that I’d written it almost exactly ten years after Their Marks on Time, which I wrote at the end of summer of 2001. I hadn’t thought of that while writing it, and I can’t tell whether or not it’s a coincidence.
© 2011 - 2021 Agahnim
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AnonymousLlama428's avatar
Words do not describe how fantastic this poem is...
LWPaleoArt's avatar
I completely agree. I've read this before, but it's been a while and I almost forgot it. It's incredible.
AnonymousLlama428's avatar
I only just found it. Fantastic. Adds some eloquence to paleontology.
FYI: Your link to the fighting Velociraptor specimen is now dead too, alas.
Velociraptor1801's avatar
I love stuff like this... Odes to creatures that time doth forgot... Also makes me kinda sad, knowing all these fossils we have in museums for entertainment and study... But then I guess it's better than being left in the ground to be torn up by a land development company or rockslides... I am undecided in my love for fossils now... But firm in my love for these beautiful creatures from an earth long ago...
PhantomFox777's avatar
Even as much as i love dinosaurs I never expected to read a poem about them that made me cry. This is fantastic. Bravo. The second stanza was extra touching for me as a mother to babies who never saw daylight before they were taken. Thank you for writing this. So touching.
magpie-poet's avatar
Oh how wonderful. A great cure to people forgetting that fossils were living creatures once.
Drakonial's avatar
I've read a lot of poems, but I think that, at least to me, this is one of the most touching and beautiful I've read. Yes, I care a lot about dinosaurs. This is a truly amazing poem, and great job.
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LadyofGaerdon's avatar
I really like what you've done here - it's a lovely tribute to the now-immortal creatures. :)
Charanty's avatar
Really beautiful and thrilling.
TheMorlock's avatar
So the famous brooding fossil was a Citipati, not an Oviraptor?
Agahnim's avatar
Yeah. It was assumed to be an Oviraptor at first, but later determined to be a separate (but very closely-related) genus.
TheMorlock's avatar
I see. I thought that was the type specimen for Oviraptor. Wasn't it called "egg thief" because it was found with some eggs?
Agahnim's avatar
Oviraptor was found with eggs also, and was given that name because it was assumed to be robbing the nest. The eggs found with Oviraptor weren’t well-enough preserved to be able to tell what kind of dinosaur they were from, so they were assumed to belong to Protoceratops. It was the discovery of Citipati that showed that assumption was wrong. Citipati was found on a nest with similar eggs, but this time the eggs were well-enough preserved for some of them to include fossil embryos inside them, showing that it was the animal’s own eggs that it was guarding. Since Citipati and Oviraptor are very closely-related, this means the type specimen of Oviraptor was probably also protecting its own eggs rather than stealing them.

Oviraptor and Citipati seem to be confused with one another pretty often. Apart from the type specimen of Oviraptor, most of the specimens that were originally assigned to Oviraptor have turned out to be Citipati instead. It might be just as well, since it’s clear now that the name Oviraptor was based on an inaccurate assumption.
TheMorlock's avatar
I see. Citipati is kind of a wimpy-sounding name, though. Even if it does mean something like "Lord of the funeral pyre".
Albertonykus's avatar
Makes me feel sad for all those other extraordinary fossils that must be out there but haven't been found (and might never will).
EWilloughby's avatar
As a paleoartist who hopes to make accurately reconstructing extinct animals into a permanent career - and essentially my life's work - I definitely identify with the sentiment here. Nice work.
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