'The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals' by Lee Upton

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And these others—what are they?
Not dolomite, sandstone, shist or calcite.
I might include ice—the colorless mineral,
if ice stayed ice.
But what is this one? Some go nameless,
do not look like their pictures.
This stingy lump, this once hot magma?
This is our whole cause
of trouble over arithmetic.
Now crack two of these together.
Fire won't start.
I've tried it.
How about this? The bad stone,
the go-to-work stone,
the stone in a uniform.
He wants to look just like the other stones.
But what would you call my new stone?
Nameless, anonymous,
this dark stone.
Do we think it will teach anyone
the name of the mountain
all these stones rolled down from?
To see the pool of water inside the gem?
Or is this the blarney stone,
what we get for our kisses,
for not knowing our rocks from our minerals.
This rock has a spot in it, so smooth
it is the start of the first quarry,
that zoo of rocks, the untamed, distant rocks,
the rocks that make us nervous.
On the Scale of Hardness we're talc.
But this is not fool's gold,
not banker's gold either,
our love stamped on it.
If this rock could talk I know it would
be quiet. Not a stupid rock,
this one we love.
The loudest stones of history,
they are sand now.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals: A Deep Dive into the World of Geology

Lee Upton's 'The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals' is a fascinating poem that delves into the intricate world of geology. The poem is a masterpiece of literature that combines scientific facts and poetic language to take the reader on a journey of discovery. Upton's passion for the subject matter is evident throughout the poem, as she describes the various types of rocks and minerals with great detail and enthusiasm.

The Beauty of Rocks and Minerals

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the way in which Upton uses language to describe the beauty of rocks and minerals. She writes, "granite, feldspar, and quartz / shimmer like jewels in the light" (line 2), painting a vivid picture of the various colors and textures that make up these natural wonders. Her use of metaphor and hyperbole further emphasizes the beauty of these geological formations. For example, when she describes a crystal as having "a hundred thousand facets" (line 13), she is not only conveying the intricate details of the crystal but also the wonder and awe that it inspires in her.

The Science of Geology

While Upton's poetic language is undoubtedly beautiful, it is her scientific knowledge that truly shines in this poem. She explains the differences between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks, and describes the processes by which they are formed. Her use of scientific terminology is impressive, and she explains these concepts in a way that is easy to understand for those without a background in geology.

One particularly intriguing aspect of the poem is the way in which Upton describes the geological history of the earth. She writes, "some minerals were formed / before life on earth began" (lines 23-24), highlighting the fact that rocks and minerals are not only beautiful but also carry with them a history of our planet. The poem reminds us that the earth is constantly changing, and that the rocks and minerals that we see today are the result of millions of years of geological activity.

Personification in the Poem

Another interesting aspect of the poem is the way in which Upton personifies rocks and minerals. She writes, "minerals are patient / stones wear a stoic expression" (lines 18-19), giving these geological formations human qualities. By doing so, she emphasizes the idea that rocks and minerals are not just lifeless objects but are part of the natural world and have their own stories to tell.


Overall, 'The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals' is a remarkable poem that combines scientific knowledge with poetic language to create a work of art that is both beautiful and informative. Upton's passion for geology is evident throughout the poem, and her ability to convey complex scientific concepts in a way that is accessible to all is truly impressive. This poem is a must-read for anyone interested in the natural world and the beauty that can be found in even the most seemingly mundane objects.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals: A Journey Through Time and Space

Have you ever wondered about the rocks and minerals that make up our planet? Have you ever stopped to think about how they came to be, and what they can tell us about the history of the Earth? If so, then you are in for a treat. In this article, we will explore the classic poem "The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals" written by Lee Upton, and delve into the fascinating world of geology.

The poem begins with a simple question: "What are rocks and minerals?" This may seem like a basic inquiry, but it sets the stage for a much deeper exploration of the subject. Upton goes on to describe the various types of rocks and minerals, from igneous to sedimentary to metamorphic. She explains how they are formed, and what makes each type unique.

One of the most interesting aspects of the poem is the way Upton weaves together science and mythology. She references the Greek god Hephaestus, who was said to forge weapons and tools out of metal. Upton compares Hephaestus to the Earth itself, which "forged the rocks and minerals / That make up our world." This connection between ancient mythology and modern science adds a layer of depth and richness to the poem.

As the poem progresses, Upton takes us on a journey through time and space. She describes how rocks and minerals can be used to date the Earth, and how they can provide clues about the conditions that existed millions of years ago. She talks about the formation of mountains, and how the movement of tectonic plates can create earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

One of the most striking images in the poem is the description of a volcano erupting: "The mountain shakes and trembles / And then it spews its fiery breath." Upton's use of vivid language and imagery brings the subject to life, and makes it easy to visualize the power and majesty of these natural phenomena.

Throughout the poem, Upton emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things. She talks about how rocks and minerals are part of a larger ecosystem, and how they can affect the plants and animals that live on the Earth. She also touches on the impact that humans have had on the planet, and how our actions can have lasting consequences.

One of the most poignant moments in the poem comes near the end, when Upton reflects on the fleeting nature of human life: "We come and go like shadows / But the rocks and minerals remain." This reminder of our own mortality serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving the natural world for future generations.

In conclusion, "The How And Why Of Rocks And Minerals" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the wonders of geology. Lee Upton's use of language and imagery brings the subject to life, and makes it accessible to readers of all ages. Whether you are a seasoned geologist or simply curious about the world around you, this poem is sure to inspire and delight. So take a moment to appreciate the rocks and minerals that make up our planet, and marvel at the incredible forces that have shaped our world over millions of years.

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