Caveman

I recently visited the rock shelters at Bhimbetka in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. These shelters are renowned for their trove of prehistoric rock drawings. These lines came from that visit.

Here he sits, an ancient caveman
Drawing stick figures on a rock wall
Giving shape to his vision, his dreams
Answering his inspiration’s clarion call

His drawings depict his primitive world
Here a deer, there a cow, or a wild boar
On a good day he will draw an elephant
A hunting scene if he lets his imagination soar

These pictures convey his profound joy
His life was simple, his troubles were few
The paint has faded, the lines have blurred
Yet it’s plain to see, he was just like me and you

Well, on second thought, maybe we’ve evolved
He took shelter in a cave and yet he had so much to tell
We live in our mansions now but we have so much to hide
We don’t tell our stories now, we merely buy and sell

I stand here and marvel at this surfeit of art
I admire this treasure - thirty thousand years old
In his certainly short and perhaps violent life
He couldn’t have imagined his story would take hold

Thirty thousand years - that’s a very long time
We have multiplied, plundered and conquered it all
We’ve reached a point when nothing’s built to last
Yet I stand here staring at these scratchings on a wall