A Geological Madrigal

A poem by Francis Bret Harte

I have found out a gift for my fair;
I know where the fossils abound,
Where the footprints of Aves declare
The birds that once walked on the ground.
Oh, come, and in technical speech
We’ll walk this Devonian shore,
Or on some Silurian beach
We’ll wander, my love, evermore.

I will show thee the sinuous track
By the slow-moving Annelid made,
Or the Trilobite that, farther back,
In the old Potsdam sandstone was laid;
Thou shalt see, in his Jurassic tomb,
The Plesiosaurus embalmed;
In his Oolitic prime and his bloom,
Iguanodon safe and unharmed.

You wished I remember it well,
And I loved you the more for that wish
For a perfect cystedian shell
And a whole holocephalic fish.
And oh, if Earth’s strata contains
In its lowest Silurian drift,
Or palaeozoic remains
The same, ’tis your lover’s free gift!

Then come, love, and never say nay,
But calm all your maidenly fears;
We’ll note, love, in one summer’s day
The record of millions of years;
And though the Darwinian plan
Your sensitive feelings may shock,
We’ll find the beginning of man,
Our fossil ancestors, in rock!

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