from Similar Cases

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This is the start of the poem; it goes on to give similar cases of apes who want to be humans, and cavemen who want to start civilisation. But I think the point is well made with the excerpt below.

There was once a little animal,
No bigger than a fox,
And on five toes he scampered
Over Tertiary rocks.
They called him Eohippus,
And they called him very small,
And they thought him of no value,
When they thought of him at all;
For the lumpish old Dinoceras
And Coryphodon so slow
Were the heavy aristocracy
In days of long ago.

Said the little Eohippus,
“I am going to be a horse,
And on my middle finger-nails
To run my earthly course.
I’m going to have a flowing tail;
I’m going to have a mane;
I’m going to stand fourteen hands high
On the psychozoic plain!”

The Coryphodon was horrified,
The Dinoceras was shocked,
And they chased young Eohippus,
But he skipped away and mocked.
Then they laughed enormous laughter,
And they groaned enormous groans,
And they bade young Eohippus
Go view his father’s bones.

Said they: “You always were as small
And mean as now we see,
And that’s conclusive evidence
That you’re always going to be.”
“What! be a great, tall, handsome beast,
With hoofs to gallop on?
Why! you’d have to change your nature!”
Said the Loxolophodon.
They considered him disposed of,
And retired with gait serene;
That was the way they argued
In the early Eocene.