Mary Anning Roars to the Sea

In 1811, twelve year old Mary Anning found the first complete Ichthyosaur skeleton on the beach near her home in Lyme Regis. 


Wild waves crash, raw winds roar:

I hear the voice of the lost dinosaur.

I roar back.  I am bold.

I roar because in my hand I hold

my hammer

to break

these rocks


and unlock the secrets

at their old, cold heart.


‘I found your bones!’

I shout, all alone,

to the plesiosaur

who paddled and dived

who lived, then died,

right here, before,

so long before




in my wind-flapped gown

with my salt-wet hair

staring down at the ground,

then up

up at the fast grey sky,

where seven white gulls

circle and cry, and circle, and I

squeeze my eyes half shut

and I half-spy


a pterosaur

on the wing.

‘I found your bones!’

I roar to the thing

who isn’t really there

anymore, then I roar

as I sing a half-made song,

with words half-right

and words half-wrong

with wild words lost

in the wind-spun air

and why do I sing?


Because I dare.


I dare to dig,

and I dare

to find

the bones and the shadows

left behind.

I dare to turn stone after stone

after stone,

I wear hard boots

and, I walk all alone,

here, right here,

with my hammer in my hand,

I dare to walk the land-slipped

shifty sand,

and I dare to learn

and to understand.


I dare to sing and I dare to roar

like the dinosaurs

who dared here

long long



© Sophie Kirtley, from Dragons of the Prime: Poems about Dinosaurs (Emma Press, £10.99)

With kind permission of the poet

Sophie grew up in Northern Ireland, where she spent her childhood climbing on hay bales, rolling down sand dunes and leaping the raw Atlantic waves. Nowadays she lives in Wiltshire with her husband, three children and their mini-menagerie of pets and wild things. Sophie has always loved poems and stories: she taught English in secondary schools for many years and has worked in a theatre, a bookshop and a tiny pub where folk tell fairytales by candlelight. Sophie is a prize-winning poet and children’s author; her first book, The Wild Way Home, was shortlisted for the Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize. To find out more about Sophie and her work, visit her website and follow her on Twitter @KirtleySophie.