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by R. S. Clark

This poem appeared in Field Engineers Bulletin U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Vol. 8, p. 2, December 1934. Mr. Clark was employed on a Local Survey Project in Michigan that was administered by the C&GS.

When Life's last traverse is finished
And the notes are computed and checked,
When angles and levels and chainage
Are purged of the last defect,
We shall turn in the tools and the notebooks
And stamp off the ice and the snow
And take us a long noon hour
Of a thousand years or so.

Then, when we are all quite rested,
The Chief will announce a plan
For a Galaxydetic survey job
With a trillion miles to span.
Out past the far horizons,
Out past the Pleiades,
To tie in the solar system
With the neighboring galaxies.

All distances chained precisely
With an invar light-year chain.
All levels referred to datum
Of the true ecliptic plane
In twenty decimal places,
Or possibly twenty-one,
With never a doubtful reading,
And never a line re-run.

All angles to accurate fractions
Of a pip on the Zodiac;
Doubled and thrice redoubled;
Repeated forward and back.
Horizons exactly closing,
All pink and purple and gold,
Where instruments read to millionths
And fingers are never cold.

Then rodmen will not be footmen,
Pacing a weary route,
But will ride two weeks in a rocket ship
To set the front target out.
The chain gang will not inch along
With bucks and tension bars,
But will shoot by stadia just like that,
From here to the horns of Mars.

And 'ere we have measured and plotted
The infinite boundaries of Space,
The rumbling march of the Alphabet
Shall have passed the decimal place,
And each in his separate station
Shall labor as best he can
For the profit of all creation
And the good of the General Plan.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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