Poems » mary howitt » the fossil elephant


The earth is old! Six thousand years,
    Are gone since I had birth;
In the forests of the olden time,
    And the solitudes of earth.

We were a race of mighty things;
    The world was all our own.
I dwelt with the Mammoth large and strong,
    And the giant Mastodon.

No ship went over the waters then,
    No ship with oar or sail;
But the wastes of the sea were habited
    By the Dragon and the Whale.

And the Hydra down in the ocean caves
    Abode, a creature grim;
And the scaled Serpents huge and strong
    Coiled up in the waters dim.

The wastes of the world were all our own;
    A proud, imperial lot!
Man had not then dominion given,
    Or else we knew it not.

There was no city on the plain;
    No fortress on the hill;
No mighty men of strength, who came
    With armies up, to kill.

There was no iron then -- no brass --
    No silver and no gold;
The wealth of the world was in its woods,
    And its granite mountains old.

And we were the kings of all the world
    We knew its breadth and length;
We dwelt in the glory of solitude,
    And the majesty of strength.

But suddenly came an awful change!
    Wherefore, ask not of me;
That it was, my desolate being shews, --
    Let that suffice for thee.

The Mammoth huge and the Mastodon
    Were buried beneath the earth;
And the Hydra and the Serpents strong,
    In the caves where they had birth!

There is now no place of silence deep,
    Whether on land or sea;
And the Dragons lie in the mountain-rock ,
    As if for eternity!

And far in the realms of thawless ice,
    Beyond each island shore,
My brethren lie in the darkness stern
    To awake to life no more!

And not till the last conflicting crash
    When the world consumes in fire,
Will their frozen sepulchres be loosed,
    And their dreadful doom expire!