The Taxidermist.

A poem by Hattie Howard

From other men he stands apart,
Wrapped in sublimity of thought
Where futile fancies enter not;
With starlike purpose pressing on
Where Agassiz and Audubon
Labored, and sped that noble art
Yet in its pristine dawn.

Something to conquer, to achieve,
Makes life well worth the struggle hard;
Its petty ills to disregard,
In high endeavor day by day
With this incentive - that he may
Somehow mankind the richer leave
When he has passed away.

Forest and field he treads alone,
Finding companionship in birds,
In reptiles, rodents, yea, in herds
Of drowsy cattle fat and sleek;
For these to him a language speak
To common multitudes unknown
As tones of classic Greek.

Unthinking creatures and untaught,
They to his nature answer back
Something his fellow mortals lack;
And oft educe from him the sigh
That they unnoticed soon must die,
Leaving of their existence naught
To be remembered by.

Man may aspire though in the slough;
May dream of glory, strive for fame,
Thirst for the prestige of a name.
And shall these friends, that so invite
The study of the erudite,
Ever as he beholds them now
Perish like sparks of light?

Nay, 'tis his purpose and design
To keep them: not like mummies old
Papyrus-mantled fold on fold,
But elephant, or dove, or swan,
Its native hue and raiment on,
In effigy of plumage fine,
Or skin its native tawn.

What God hath wrought thus time shall tell,
And thus endowment rich and vast
Be rescued from the buried past;
And rare reliques that never fade
Be in the manikin portrayed
Till taxidermy witness well
The debt to science paid.

Lo! one appeareth unforetold -
This re-creator, yea, of men;
Making him feel as born again
Who looketh up with reverent eyes,
Through wonders that his soul surprise,
That great Creator to behold
All-powerful, all-wise.

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