Here you will find the Long Poem Book V - Part 06 - Origins And Savage Period Of Mankind of poet Lucretius

Book V - Part 06 - Origins And Savage Period Of Mankind

But mortal man 
Was then far hardier in the old champaign, 
As well he should be, since a hardier earth 
Had him begotten; builded too was he 
Of bigger and more solid bones within, 
And knit with stalwart sinews through the flesh, 
Nor easily seized by either heat or cold, 
Or alien food or any ail or irk. 
And whilst so many lustrums of the sun 
Rolled on across the sky, men led a life 
After the roving habit of wild beasts. 
Not then were sturdy guiders of curved ploughs, 
And none knew then to work the fields with iron, 
Or plant young shoots in holes of delved loam, 
Or lop with hooked knives from off high trees 
The boughs of yester-year. What sun and rains 
To them had given, what earth of own accord 
Created then, was boon enough to glad 
Their simple hearts. Mid acorn-laden oaks 
Would they refresh their bodies for the nonce; 
And the wild berries of the arbute-tree, 
Which now thou seest to ripen purple-red 
In winter time, the old telluric soil 
Would bear then more abundant and more big. 
And many coarse foods, too, in long ago 
The blooming freshness of the rank young world 
Produced, enough for those poor wretches there. 
And rivers and springs would summon them of old 
To slake the thirst, as now from the great hills 
The water's down-rush calls aloud and far 
The thirsty generations of the wild. 
So, too, they sought the grottos of the Nymphs- 
The woodland haunts discovered as they ranged- 
From forth of which they knew that gliding rills 
With gush and splash abounding laved the rocks, 
The dripping rocks, and trickled from above 
Over the verdant moss; and here and there 
Welled up and burst across the open flats. 
As yet they knew not to enkindle fire 
Against the cold, nor hairy pelts to use 
And clothe their bodies with the spoils of beasts; 
But huddled in groves, and mountain-caves, and woods, 
And 'mongst the thickets hid their squalid backs, 
When driven to flee the lashings of the winds 
And the big rains. Nor could they then regard 
The general good, nor did they know to use 
In common any customs, any laws: 
Whatever of booty fortune unto each 
Had proffered, each alone would bear away, 
By instinct trained for self to thrive and live. 
And Venus in the forests then would link 
The lovers' bodies; for the woman yielded 
Either from mutual flame, or from the man's 
Impetuous fury and insatiate lust, 
Or from a bribe- as acorn-nuts, choice pears, 
Or the wild berries of the arbute-tree. 
And trusting wondrous strength of hands and legs, 
They'd chase the forest-wanderers, the beasts; 
And many they'd conquer, but some few they fled, 
A-skulk into their hiding-places... 

With the flung stones and with the ponderous heft 
Of gnarled branch. And by the time of night 
O'ertaken, they would throw, like bristly boars, 
Their wildman's limbs naked upon the earth, 
Rolling themselves in leaves and fronded boughs. 
Nor would they call with lamentations loud 
Around the fields for daylight and the sun, 
Quaking and wand'ring in shadows of the night; 
But, silent and buried in a sleep, they'd wait 
Until the sun with rosy flambeau brought 
The glory to the sky. From childhood wont 
Ever to see the dark and day begot 
In times alternate, never might they be 
Wildered by wild misgiving, lest a night 
Eternal should posses the lands, with light 
Of sun withdrawn forever. But their care 
Was rather that the clans of savage beasts 
Would often make their sleep-time horrible 
For those poor wretches; and, from home y-driven, 
They'd flee their rocky shelters at approach 
Of boar, the spumy-lipped, or lion strong, 
And in the midnight yield with terror up 
To those fierce guests their beds of out-spread leaves. 

And yet in those days not much more than now 
Would generations of mortality 
Leave the sweet light of fading life behind. 
Indeed, in those days here and there a man, 
More oftener snatched upon, and gulped by fangs, 
Afforded the beasts a food that roared alive, 
Echoing through groves and hills and forest trees, 
Even as he viewed his living flesh entombed 
Within a living grave; whilst those whom flight 
Had saved, with bone and body bitten, shrieked, 
Pressing their quivering palms to loathsome sores, 
With horrible voices for eternal death- 
Until, forlorn of help, and witless what 
Might medicine their wounds, the writhing pangs 
Took them from life. But not in those far times 
Would one lone day give over unto doom 
A soldiery in thousands marching on 
Beneath the battle-banners, nor would then 
The ramping breakers of the main seas dash 
Whole argosies and crews upon the rocks. 
But ocean uprisen would often rave in vain, 
Without all end or outcome, and give up