The Lost Galleon and Other Tales

A Geological Madrigal

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 Palæozoic 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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