HE sat among the woods; he heard
The sylvan merriment; he saw
The pranks of butterfly and bird,
The humors of the ape, the daw.
And in the lion or the frog,—
In all the life of moor and fen,—
In ass and peacock, stork and dog,
He read similitudes of men.
“Of these, from those,” he cried, “we come,
Our hearts, our brains descend from these.”
And, lo! the Beasts no more were dumb,
But answered out of brakes and trees:
“Not ours,” they cried; “Degenerate,
If ours at all,” they cried again,
“Ye fools, who war with God and Fate,
Who strive and toil; strange race of men.
“For we are neither bond nor free,
For we have neither slaves nor kings;
But near to Nature’s heart are we,
And conscious of her secret things.
“Content are we to fall asleep,
And well content to wake no more;
We do not laugh, we do not weep,
Nor look behind us and before:
“But were there cause for moan or mirth,
’T is we, not you, should sigh or scorn,
Oh, latest children of the Earth,
Most childish children Earth has born.”
They spoke, but that misshapen slave
Told never of the thing he heard,
And unto men their portraits gave,
In likenesses of beast and bird!