By Langdon Smith (1858-1908)

When you were a tadpole and I was 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 the 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 life 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 mold
  Of a Neocomian shore.
The eons came and the eons fled
  And the sleep that wrapped us fast
Was riven away in a newer day
  And the night of death was passed.

Then light and swift through the jungle trees
  We swung in 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 there
  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.

I was thewed like an Auroch bull
  And tusked like the great cave bear;
And you, my sweet, from head to feet
  Were gowned in your glorious hair.
Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,
  When the night fell o'er the plain
And the moon hung red o'er the river bed
  We mumbled the bones of the slain.

I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
  And shaped it with brutish craft;
I broke a shank from the woodland lank
  And fitted it, head and haft;
Than I hid me close to the reedy tarn,
  Where the mammoth came to drink;
Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone
  And slew him upon the brink.

Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,
  Loud answered our kith and kin;
From west to east to the crimson feast
  The clan came tramping in.
O'er joint and gristle and padded hoof
  We fought and clawed and tore,
And cheek by jowl with many a growl
  We talked the marvel o'er.

I carved that fight on a reindeer bone
  With rude and hairy hand;
I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
  That men might understand.
For we lived by blood and the right of might
  Ere human laws were drawn,
And the age of sin did not begin
  Til our brutal tusks were gone.

And that was a million years ago
  In a time that no man knows;
Yet here tonight in the mellow light
  We sit at Delmonico's.
Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
  Your hair is dark as jet,
Your years are few, your life is new,
  Your soul untried, and yet --

Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
  And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
  And deep in the Coralline crags;
Our love is old, our lives are old,
  And death shall come amain;
Should it come today, what man may say
  We shall not live again?

God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
  And furnish’d 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-bone 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 you
  Were a tadpole and I was a fish.