Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PRIMITIVE MAN, by MOSCHION



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PRIMITIVE MAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: First I shall trace and show in argument
Last Line: Left visible of older sin of feast.
Subject(s): Primitive Man; Cavemen


FIRST I shall trace and show in argument
The origin and tenure of man's life.
A generation once upon a time
There lived of men like-mannered with the beasts,
Their homes making in caverns of the hills,
In chasms where the sun spared visitation,
With never yet a roof on house, nor wide
City built strong and the stone towers thereof;
Nor ever down black earth the twisted plough
Went cutting clods that give rich grain for harvest.
No iron worked upon exuberant rows
Of vines -- the reveller's glory -- carefully pruned;
The womb of Earth was barren of livelihood.
For food men ate the flesh of mutual slaughter, --
This gave them feasting. Law was nothing worth;
Might reigned coequal on the throne with Zeus.
Then was the aspect of man's life reversed
By Time all things engendering, nurse of all;
Whether Prometheus toiled for man, or whether
Necessity fore-doomed, or Time and Use
Made Nature's own book clear for all to read.
Then first by skill of careful husbandry
In gift of grain was pure Demeter known;
Then Bacchus first, in the grape's luscious flow;
And Earth, unsown before, was furrowed now
With harnessed oxen; now their towns men towered,
Their houses walled for shelter, savagery
Converting to a milder way of life.
So custom first appointed for dead men
A place of burial, and their due meed of dust
To give unburied bodies, with no relic
Left visible of older sin of feast.





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