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…
…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…
…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.
These excerpts are from the intoxicating poem “Evolution” by Langdon Smith, in which we are along for the ride with two beings inhabiting simple-celled organisms. They are connected to each other endlessly through the ebb and flow of life. This poem invokes the same feeling for me which I have on the few occasions I have wandered into a cemetery, for the sole reason of visiting the cemetery. Standing there, you feel the quiet of so much life that came before you, you understand you will be quiet, and life will continue. It’s very peaceful and comforting, a much better way to see things than with fear and worry. Enjoy the full version of the poem.