Poem: Outline of History

A fishbone pattern of flint arrows flattened
A fossil vision of the Age of Stone—
And sages in war-weary empires quarrel
With those quaint quarrels and forget their own.
What riddle is of the elf-darts or the elves
But the strange stony riddle of ourselves?

As by long worms the hills are pierced with holes,
Where long day's journeyings without light of day
Lead to a painted cave, a buried sky,
Whose clouds are creatures sprawling in coloured clay;
And men ask how and why such things were done
Darkly, with dyes that never saw the sun.

I have seen a statue in a London square.
One whose long-winded lies are long forgot
Gleams with the rain above the twinkling bushes,
And birds perch on him in that unroofed plot.
Unriddle that dark image; and I will show
The secret of your pictured rocks below.

As green volcanic skies bury dark sunsets,
Green rust like snakes crawled, and their work concealed
The men who were red shadows in copper mirrors,
When groaned the golden and the brazen shield.
And the slaves worked the copper for their lords,
Stiff swarthy kings holding their yellow swords.

We have written the names of hucksters on the heavens
And tied our pigmy slaves to giant tools,
And chosen our nobles from the mart; and never
Stank to the sky the praise of prouder fools.
And 'mid the blare, the doctors and the dons,
In the Age of Brass brood on the Age of Bronze.

We clothe the dead in their theatric raiment
To hide their nakedness of normality;
Disguise by gilded mask or horned mitre
The accusing faces of such men as we:
Till the last brotherhood of men brings down
Us with the troglodytes in their twilight town.

~G.K. Chesterton