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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

The Tuatara

The Tuatara.

On barren islets off the coast,
Sun-warmed and torpid, tarries one Whose ancient day is nearly done—
Reptilian, prehistoric ghost.
Gnarled tuatara, basking there,
Behind your jewelled amber eyes
Lie what prodigious memories
Of ancient days, lived other where?
In bygone ages did you see
Grotesque and monstrous creatures climb—
All dripping from primordial slime—
To wax, and wane, and cease to be?
And mark a lemur-thing that ran
On hind-legs-clambered in the trees,
And used its clever hands to seize
On sticks to fight its fellow-man?
And did you make your last lone stand
Here on a rocky mountain-side?
And watch the giant moa stride
In flocks across the empty land?
Alas! You with the earth grew old.
Fixed prey to changing enemies, A million marching centuries
Have won the day. Your tale is told.
And now you sprawl in sun-warmed pools
With pulsing throat and lidless eyes;
And flick your tongue to capture flies,
Ignoring all this world of fools.
Ousted and unregarded, while
New-fangled man takes up the tale,

Sphinx-like you brood beyond the pale;
Inviolate and immobile.

* * *