When I was a Tadpole and You were a Fish

When I was a tadpole and you were a fish In the Paleozoic time, And side by side on the ebbing tide, We sprawled through the ooze and slime, Or skittered with many a caudal flip, Through the depths of the Cambrian fen, My heart was rife with the joy of life, For I loved you even then. Mindless we lived and mindless we loved, And mindless at last we died, And deep in a rift of the caradoc drift, We slumbered side by side, The world turned on in the lathe of time, The hot lands heaved amain, Till we caught our breath from the womb of death, And crept into light again. We were amphibians, scaled and tailed, And drab as a dead man's hand, We coiled at ease 'neath the dripping trees, Or trailed through the mud and sand, Croaking and blind with our three clawed feet, Writing a language dumb, With never a spark in the empty dark , To hint at a life to come. Yet happy we lived and happy we loved, And happy we died once more, Our forms were rolled in the clinging mould, Of a Neocomian shore, The aeons came and the aeons fled, And the sleep that wrapped us fast, Was riven away with a newer day, And the night of death was past. When light and swift through the jungle trees, We swung on our airy flights, Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms, In the hush of the moonless nights, And Oh! what beautiful years were these, When our hearts clung each to each, When life was filled, and our senses thrilled, In the first faint dawn of speech. Thus life by life and love by love, We passed through the cycles strange, And breath by breath and death by death, We followed the chain of change, Till there came a time in the law of life, When over the nursing sod, The shadows broke and the soul awoke, In a strange dim dream of God. God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds, And furnished them wings to fly, He sowed our spawn in the world's dim dawn, And I know that it shall not die, Though cities have sprung above the graves, Where the crook-boned men made war, And the ox-wain creaks o'er the buried caves, Where the mummied mammoths are. Then as we linger at luncheon here, O'er many a dainty dish, Let us drink anew to the time when I, Was a tadpole and you were a fish.

Langdon Smith, 1895

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