Tell Us, Little Toad [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

Tell Us, Little Toad.

(A little toad, taken from under the slate and cement at Day Dawn, was estimated by geologists as having been embedded there thousands of years.)

Tell us, little toad,
Gasping in the light;
Gouged from your abode,
By the gelignite;
Tell us, as you blink,
In the glare of day,
What you’d like to think,
What you’d like to say.
Is the earth the same,
Has the brine its bent,
As when you became
Coffined in cement?
Through the glare and mist,
Did the wild birds wing?
Did a man exist?
Did he speak or sing?
Had he creed or code?
Tell us, little toad!

Myriad solar rays
Shone upon the waves,
Sucking them in haze
From their briny graves;
Ere the deluge vast
Drowned each mountain range,
Were you pent and fast
In a prison strange?
Had Vesuvius flowed?
Tell us, little toad!

Maybe you were gaoled
’Neath the strata slate,
While the bunyip wailed
For its mammoth mate.
Prisoned and engrained,
Shut from all escape,
Aeons ere we gained
Protoplasmic shape —
We were gases then,
Atomised in space,
Molecules of men,
Globules of a race!
While you croaked in pools,
While in swamps you glurked!
Saurians in schools
Lumberously lurked,
Mastodons immense,
Floundered hill and flat;
In the jungles dense
Hung the vampire-bat.
Frighted by the quakes
Of volcanic shocks,
Over lava lakes,
Flapped the mighty rocs,
Was there human shape
And a human brain?
Was he but an ape,
Slaying to be slain?
Had he fixed abode?
Tell us, little toad!

Maybe you were tombed
Long before the Flood,
And the billows boomed
O’er your grave of mud;
Maybe Noah’s Ark
Floated o’er your cell,
Where thro’ ages dark,
You were doomed to dwell.
Day succeeded night.
Centuries swept by,
’Neath the diorite
Lifetimes saw it lie;
Man primeval strode
O’er the little toad!

Storms above you swept,
Ages came and went,
Still secure you slept
In your safe cement;
One day came a thrill
Through the rigid rock,
First the probing drill!
Then the shatt’ring shock!
Then the light you saw,
Light that blazed and burned.
By a human paw
You were disinterned.
Blinked you then your eyes
’Mid the doubter’s grin,
While professors wise
Microscoped your skin.
Lectures fluent flowed
Round that little toad.

* * *

Marvel we that frogs,
Toads and other things,
Outlive dingo dogs,
Courtesans and kings.
Eve perhaps was not
Born from out a bone,
When it found a cot
In Silurian stone.
Abel p’raps was slain
By a brother’s hand,
After it had lain
Centuries in sand.
And to-day we find
Saxon, Gaul and Celt,
In a legion lined,
Peeping at its pelt;
Piling prose and ode
On a little toad.

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 53-55

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 28 July 1907, p. 4
Dryblower, Jarrahland Jingles: A Volume of Westralian Verse, Perth (W.A.): R.S. Sampson for Sunday Times, 1908, pages 124-128

Editor’s notes:
Abel = the youngest of the two sons of Adam and Eve (according to the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, Abel was murdered by Cain, his older brother)

ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)

[Editor: Corrected “Tell, us” to “Tell us”.]

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