The Museum of Natural History tour
Was full of mystery and wonder that day
As the elementary school’s field trip
Was slowly ushered to each display.
The tour guide spoke about the beasts,
Stuffed and mounted behind the glass
And described the way they had lived
For the fascinated, wide-eyed class.
“This is an elephant,” the guide explained,
“It once roamed the African plains.
They went extinct because of poachers
Despite many conservation campaigns.”
The class then moved to the next window
Where a lion stood, regal and strong.
The guide said, “It’s hard to believe
But even he didn’t last very long.”
The class was awed but sadly silent.
Next, they saw a rhino on display.
“I don’t know how or why,” she said,
“But this giant was also taken away.”
The same was true of the giraffe,
The gorilla, the hyena, the bear,
The moose, the elk, the buffalo,
No animals were left anywhere.
The museum was more like a graveyard,
Its wonder was so mired in sorrow.
So many species poached to extinction
By men with no thought for tomorrow.
They finally came to the last display,
Figures of a woman, a child and a man.
The guide said, “This is what ruled here
Before our time on this planet began.”
“We sent scouts to find a new home for us
Because we devastated our planet, too.
They found this world, barely inhabitable,
With just enough resources to start anew.”
“We’re not really sure what happened here.
We know there was pestilence, famine and war.
But it’s a mystery why not one survived
When they once ruled from shore to shore.”
“There was an artist in their 15th century,
A man named Leonardo Da Vinci, who said,
‘All will be hunted down. All destroyed.’
What filled his heart with such dread?”
“We also discovered a poem, or prophecy,
By a man named Seattle, an Indian chief.
It seemed he saw his conquerer’s future
When he wrote it through tears of grief.”
“He asked, ‘What is man without the beasts?‘
And said all living things are connected
But there were too many who didn’t believe
So Seattle’s wise words were rejected.”
“He warned of ‘a great loneliness of spirit‘
From seeing nature not as friend but as rival.
And a world without other life forms marked
‘The end of living and beginning of survival.’ “
“He warned man did not weave the web of life.
In all its complexity, he was merely a strand.
By destroying the web, they destroyed themselves
Which is why not one was left upon this land.”
“We certainly would have met the same fate
Had we not discovered this new place to live.
So let us learn from our past, and from theirs,
And always take much less than we give.”
~ Mark Rickerby
“Nothing will be left. Nothing on the land. Nothing in the air. Nothing in the sea. All will be hunted down. All destroyed.” – Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)