A Guess in Anthropology

When Man was yet so young upon the Earth

As to be just as lofty or as lowly

As other creatures, whether hoofed or taloned,

Feathered or scaled, that shared with him this orb;

It chanced upon a day that he peered down

From his hid perch, high in some forest tree,

And saw beneath him on the ground a beast

Of alien kind, his foe. Then did he spring,

With something 'twixt a chatter and a screech—

Knowing not other language—toward his victim;

And as from branch to branch he swung himself,

With long, thick, hirsute arms, down to the ground,

It so befell that the last branch of all

Broke off in his right hand. 'Twas his first weapon!

The father of all weapons wielded since!

Nay, more—from this, all instruments and tools,

Whether they be of war or peace, descend.

Thus, in that pregnant hour, that held within it

All after ages—thus, and then, and there,

Took he the first tremendous step of fate

In the long task of making earth, stone, iron,

His servants. Thus his great career began.

Such is my guess—which whoso will may scorn,

And whoso will may ponder—as to how

Dawned through the darkness this our human empire

Over the beast and bird, this human sway

Of the earth and air, this governance and power

Whereby we bind to our hot chariot wheels

The captive world, and shall not pause content

Until all Nature bear the yoke of man,

As man, half mutinous, bears the yoke of God.

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