A Lump of Carbon.

Tell me, lump of Carbon, burning1
Lurid in the glowing grate,2
While thy flames rise twisting, turning,3
Quench in me this curious yearning,4
Ages past elucidate.5
Tell me of the time when, waving6
High above the primal world,7
Thou, a giant palm-tree, lifting8
Thy proud head above the shifting9
Of the storm-cloud’s lightning hurled,10
While the tropic sea, hot laving,11
Round thy roots its billows curled.12
Tell me, did the Mammoth, straying13
Near that mighty trunk of yours,14
On the verdure stop and graze,15
Which thy ample base displays,16
Or his weary limbs down laying,17
Sleep away the tardy hours ?18
Perchance some monstrous Saurian, sliding,19
Waddled up the neighbouring strand,20
Or leapt into its native sea21
With something of agility,22
Though all ungainly on the land ;23
While near your roots, in blood-stained fray,24
Maybe two Ichthyc beasts colliding,25
Bit and fought their lives away.26
Tell me, Ancient Palm-corpse, was there27
In that world of yours primeval28
Aught of man in perfect shape ?29
Was there good ? and was there evil ?30
Was it man ? or was it ape ?31
Tell me, lump of Carbon, burning32
Lurid in the glowing grate,33
Lies there in each human face34
Something of the monkey’s trace ?35
Tell me, have we lost a link ?36
Stir thy coaly brain and think,37
While thy red flames rise and sink,38
Ages past elucidate.39