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Wisconsin's Driftless Area Rock Forms

The rock formations of the driftless area of Wisconsin are incredible sculptures formed by nature in an ancient time beyond human reach. Their presence in the western edge of Wisconsin is a source of incredible beauty. The rock that forms them is one variety or another of sandstone...the floor of an vast and primordial ocean. The last glacial ice age cut and hewed this ocean-floor rock into incredible patterns and formations. The area known as the "driftless area" is notable as the further most edge of the glaciars' advance. Where the towering walls of ice stopped and then receded, the rock formations were formed.

These pictures come from the area just north of the Mill Bluff State Park on Hwy 12-16 between Oakdale and Camp Douglas in Wisconsin.

We include this poem "Dreamers Rock" by well-known Anishnaabeg intellectual Basil H. Johnston, (Parry Island Band Ojibwe) who was 45 in 1974 (he had participated in the writers' part of the Manitou Arts activities) wrote this poem, which Akwesasne Notes published in the Early Summer, 1976, Poetry section. It reflects the discovery of the sad state of Dreamer's Rock, which was followed by the young artists' cleanup, and the holding of the summer art sessions there. We include this poem here with these photographs (though this is NOT Dreamers Rock).

Dreamers Rock-Basil H. Johnston

Arched Sandstone Bluff

It was a sacred place
Formed by titanic forces
Crest uplifted, upreaching
Toward the Path of Souls and to the worlds beyond
Oft enshrouded by mystic mists, uprising from vaporous lake
Illuminated by sun or moon or darkened by cosmic glooms
Incarnated by breaths of life.
Changing, yet unchanged, altering the moods of being.
Imparting but not revealing the mystery of becoming.

West Central Wisconsin Bluff

It was a hallowed place
Spirit pre-created, interred within the chasmic womb
Of its inmost substance.
By preternatural law destined to withhold from understanding
The mystery of the vital force of life; yet
By law outside the law ordained
To infuse and conjoin with the heart and soul of men
To give increase to being
Lend purpose to existence
Bestowing the gift of living but
Not disclosing the mystery of life

Crack in the Rocks

To this vision crest in cherished hope came youth
Themselves not fully formed or heart and mind not
With the spirit of the world yet bound,
In vigil by solitary night
In fast from corporal want
They denied the worldly frame to appease the inner hunger
And cleanse the heart and mind
To merit and gain the sacred dream by which the way and mode of life and destinies are marked
And new force to being brings.

Bluff 2

It is now a public place
Open, in its solitude
To incurious and indifferent
And other passers-by
Who come their transient ways, and as they pass through life
Seeing, rather than seeking
Hearing but not listening
Touching to remain unmoved
And in mockery but not in honour
They inscribe their names
Upon the abiding rock
As if names have a greater force
Than the mystery of being.

Bluff Tunnel

 

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