Fallen Arches

“Not one change of species into another is on record… we cannot prove that a single species has been changed.” —Charles Darwin

I heard today that Darwin’s Arch had crumbled.
Its lid blew off and plunged into the sea.
The dizzy heights of Charlie boy have tumbled.
Two gnarly stumps mark where it used to be.
Those stumps are set to drag themselves to land
Away from all the thrashing, limbless fish;
A bold mudskipper jump to golden sand
To pose in stone; symbolic simian bliss—
Two sturdy stacks like stocky apish legs
About to spring and swing through every tree—
A monument evolved from silted dregs
Surviving with the fit; a vital key—

A wink to Darwin-backers on the brink
Of finding that forever missing link.


Turtletown Bard Service



Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas. Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

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69 Responses

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      This irresistible story called out for a poem – it had too many golden nuggets of irony to overlook.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Yes! “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone”! “Ozymandias is one of my favorite poems. And thanks for filling me in with the video — I hadn’t heard the story yet. Here’s a question: What do the letters NTD stand for?

      • Evan Mantyk

        Cynthia, it stands for “New Tang Dynasty,” the Tang Dynasty was a cultural golden age in Chinese history. The TV station is founded by people who fled communist China because of religious persecution there.

    • Dave Etchell

      Another good poem. But it seriously misunderstands evolution–which occurs slowly or slowishly over many generations and by a series of almost imperceptible changes. The Darwin quote is badly out of context — read his complete ‘On the Origin of Species’ — this lays out the bare bones of the theory which has been considerably refined and augmented since, by things such as DNA analysis. There has never been a case where there was a sudden jump from one species to another. And the idea of a missing link in human ape evolution has long been discarded. Very few fossils survived (our ancestors were few and the geological period they occupied was in geological time very short.) there were huge gaps but they are slowly being filled and the slight changes occurring over the aeons, mapped. Another good read in this area is A.S. Romer’s Man and Vertebrates which sketches out vertebrate evolution from its beginings in the Cambrian.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Dave, it’s great to see you here and thank you for your contribution. I am certain I am not as well read on the subject as you are, and I apologise for the out of context quote. Although, there is truth in it – there has been no evidence of a new species arising from an old one, only adaptations to surrounds.

        I have read Darwin and a large part of my education alluded to his finds. For me, it boils down to one thing – the first cell. Science has obviously moved a long way from the primordial mud and lightning theory and DNA is key. There’s no way that the code of a DNA strand could have assembled itself. I think it’s telling Richard Dawkins knows that this cannot be overcome. The code of life proves intelligent design. No computer can program itself. Creationists are laughed out of the laboratory, yet Dawkins seems to agree with this theory, only his intelligent designers are aliens seeding the earth. Who designed them?

        Darwin had a similar problem: “When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.”

        Leaving the creationist theory aside, where did the first cell came from? Was it intelligent design or did the DNA create itself? If this question can’t be answered by evolutionists, all suppositions should be able to be openly discussed, but they’re not. The scientists who suggest intelligent design are shut down. To my mind, we are no nearer an answer today than Darwin was.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Don’t worry, Susan. Dave is just spewing out the party line. There are grave problems with neo-Darwinism that he is probably unwilling to face.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        C.B., Having just watched ‘Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines’, I have had my eyes well and truly opened. Not just because of the science, but because of the politics surrounding it. After hearing the outcome of the Kitzmiller v. Dover area School District case, cancel-culture runs far deeper than I had ever imagined. It makes me question exactly how much truth has been suppressed in every area in the interest of politics… it chills me to the bone. And for anyone who thinks Intelligent Design is about God, the scientists who want to bring this theory to the table are not interested in discussing religion – only science.

  1. paul buchheit

    Very meaningful, provocative, and well-constructed, Susan!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Paul – I had huge fun composing this. Often the news is a great source for inspiration.

  2. Damian Robin

    At the end of the tv report posted by The Society, above, the reporter mentions that there are steps afoot to rename the collapsed arch as Darwin’s Towers. Being from the UK, I guess the writer of this jocular and satiric sonnet will know of Fawlty Towers. It was a comedy series about a seaside hotel with a bombastic and fractious and incompetent owner played by John Cleese.

    I love the idea in the ending couplet here, Susan (with your penchant for internal rhyme showing nicely).
    A wink to Darwin-backers on the brink
    Of finding that forever missing link.

    Definitely ‘apish legs’ and echoes of Shelly. Good stuff.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Damian, your Watery Fowls/Flowery Twats/Farty Towels comparison has me laughing. ‘Darwin’s Towers’ is the perfect name. I’m sure Sybil would agree!

      Thank you for dropping by and thank you for your wild and wonderful comment.

      • Damian Robin

        Tho Sybil might agree,
        this is news to me –
        Watery Fowls/Flowery Twats/
        Farty Towels
        it’s all bats

        or do you ice us into Frost
        with “flowery waters and these watery flowers”*
        that will, in decades/centuries,
        have these 2 leggéd towers freeze
        into oblivion with ease?

        You are probably showing some erudition, Susan, that I don’t grasp. Or extending my suggestion one step beyond my noggin into Madness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOJSM46nWwo Please note that each of the Madness crowd have two stonking legs; that theyir label was 2 Tone Records (the same number as their legs); and that the band broke up and reformed as ‘The Madness’, later — evolution at its not most remarkable. If you get my drift.


      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Damian, I am thrilled that my Watery Fowls and Flowery Twats brought forth your wonderful comment. Madness has taken me back to the insanity of my teens and reading of Spring Pools by Robert Frost has brought a sunshine smile to my rather stressful afternoon.

        I wish I could lay claim to erudition… I have to admit that the strange terms were merely anagrams of ‘Fawlty Towers’ – shown at the beginning each episode. Now you know – I’m a Fawlty Towers geek! Poor Manuel… it’s probably been banned from the BBC now. lol

  3. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, I love how you have turned this event into poetry. The Galápagos Islands have fascinated me for years, indeed, in another life I would like to return as a marine iguana. Fallen Arches, gigantic legs striding landward, the missing link, Charlie boy, all very clever. This is up there with your best. Thank you.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you very much. I wonder if marine iguanas are able to write poetry? I’m sure that merely inhabiting The Galápagos Islands will ensure they develop quill-like appendages they can dip in a pouch of ink… their evolved literary brain will do the rest.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Susan, a wondrous parody of Darwinian thinking! I especially like the two legs of an entirely imaginary fish becoming an amphibian, reused as you sturdily re-create a prototype of apes and humans rocketing himself into the trees as a monkey. Of course we could carry on as ancestors of our smart phones, but only through intelligent design like yours in this poem.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, what a creative and inspirational comment. I’m laughing at the thought of carrying on as ‘ancestors of our smart phones’… I honestly feel we are heading in that direction. Thank you very much for your, as ever, fine eye and insight.

  5. Mike Bryant

    It was the Ides of March when cracks
    First started to appear.
    Intelligent design’s attacks
    Made Darwin’s folly clear.

    And under Darwin’s Arch it died,
    The Godless supposition
    That man is monkey amplified –
    Scholastic superstition.

    The IT cognoscenti know
    The code of life’s refined…
    That DNA is words – they flow
    From Heaven’s Master Mind.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Well done, Mike! I think you get to the heart of what has become the newest flaw in Darwin’s theory, which is the realization that the amount of nano-data required for cell functioning and the execution of DNA’s functions simply cannot be explained without intelligent design.

      By the way, this is a good documentary from comedian Ben Stein on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5EPymcWp-g

      • Damian Robin

        Thanks Mike, a strong ending — again reminding me of UK TV (a bit irreverently here) — Mastermind, where pundits’ knowledge is displayed for competition and entertainment, but taken seriously.

        And thanks Evan. I started watching the film — a strong metaphor is the Berlin Wall. ‘Scientists’ must have a big no-go area to keep Darwinian daring winning. They allow the origin of life debate to wander freely on one side a wall in their heads. The other side must be the perpetual abode not travelled.

      • Mike Bryant

        Evan, Susan and I just watched ‘Expelled-No Intelligence Allowed.’ It was tremendous. I think that the most telling part was near the end when Ben Stein interviewed Richard Dawkins. Ben asked if Richard believed in any deity whatsoever. Of course, he didn’t. Then he asked how a single cell could have come to be on this earth. Surprisingly, Mr. Dawkins said that the most probable explanation for life on earth was the intervention of intelligent aliens. So, I suppose, Mr. Dawkins has no problem with the idea of Intelligent Design, as long as God is not in the picture.
        Thanks… it was well worth the investment of time.

  6. Paul Freeman

    From headland, then to arch, and then to stacks,
    that’s evolution baby, once the cracks
    from gravity and wave erosion tell
    ’til Darwin’s lintel, naturally, fell.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      It fell by natural means?! You’ve missed my link.
      Let the words evolve; take time to think.
      Ape to Man is Darwin’s huge mistake.
      The lid’s blown off the lie, for Heaven’s sake. 😉

      • Paul Freeman

        Then take a look at Darwin’s finches
        whose beaks changed over time, by inches
        to utilise the fodder found
        in each isle’s trees or on the ground.
        Thus science met imagination
        to theorise on Man’s foundation;
        and if, with Charles, you don’t agree,
        that’s fine with him, and fine by me.

      • Mike Bryant

        You’re talking of a tweak.
        The finch still has its beak.
        The finch can’t be a goat,
        Just look at Darwin’s quote.
        No wing is now a limb,
        You disagree with him.


    Susan, I love how nature has handed you a vivid metaphor which you have made your own with your usual aplomb. There are ironies galore in the circumstances of its creation as well as great delights in the craftsmanship of the poem. I especially admire the evolutionary progression you describe as you turn Darwinian language on its head. It’s great fun!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, you have an amazing knack of getting right to the heart of my poem, laying it bare with an eloquent analysis that is absolutely spot-on. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it… and nature did, indeed, hand me a vivid metaphor. I believe nature is an excellent teacher. Thank you very much, and it was great to see you reading your excellent poem on Sunday.


        It was great to see and hear you as well! A joy to finally meet a poet whose work I so admire!

  8. Mike Bryant

    And, naturally, it’s reverently fine
    That Darwin’s lackeys swing the monkey line,
    For worshippers hold up the god they love
    Whether down below or up above.
    Some think that all life’s mysteries are solved –
    Those who believe their empathy’s evolved.

  9. Jeff Kemper

    Susan and Mike, your four poems are exquisite. I love them!
    I have never been able to see how macroevolution got past the hypothesis stage but evolved, à la punctuated equilibrium, to fact. Or, better said, to religion.

    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks Jeff… the punctuation on punctuated equilibrium is undoubtedly a question mark.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, great minds and poets think alike – thank you!

  10. Yael

    Another great poem for this evening’s episode of the Turtletown bard service, to inform the townfolk of current events in a lyrical and poetic way. Thank you for keeping us in the information loop Susan, you are much appreciated.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, I love your comment. What a ring ‘Turtletown bard service’ has to it. The only highlight missing is the accompanying music… I want to sing the news to the tune of your guitar! I think we’re onto a winner. Let’s get this show on the road! 😉

      • Yael

        Okay, I wrote down the music. I’ll try to get it recorded tomorrow. I could also do this as a backing track if you prefer to sing/narrate the news yourself. That might be even more fun.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Yael, I’m am thrilled to hear this and look forward to hearing the result… I bow to your musical skills and give you the floor… when it comes to music, your voice is far superior to mine. Thank you!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Yael, I absolutely love this! Great music, great delivery, and a beautiful nod to our veterans. What a wonderful way to receive news… I know this will catch on. It’s just what we need in these dire times. Yael, you’re a star. Evan has been notified by Mike, and hopefully The Turtle Bard Service will be up in lights at the top of this page, shortly. Thank you!!

      • Yael

        Thank you Susan, I’m so glad you like it. It’s a pleasure to collaborate with you on art projects:)

  11. Cynthia Erlandson

    Susan, this is a very intelligently designed poem, indeed!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cynthia, thank you! I love your intelligently designed, inspirational comment! I must, however, confess to the fact that this poem emerged from the swampy murk, dragged itself to shore, stood up and proclaimed itself to the world. There was no creator in sight. I’m now in search of the missing link between my brain and this sonnet.

  12. David Watt

    Susan, your fine poem and the accompanying photos bring to mind The Twelve Apostles, located by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. The number of these limestone stacks has been relentlessly reduced to eight.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you for your intriguing and informative comment. I can certainly see a golden metaphor in that piece of news… I feel another poem coming on.

  13. Daniel Kemper


    So Darwin’s brain broke-off each thought
    of Nature’s “maybe” and her “ought”.
    Alas, but made of random stuff,
    his theory just was not enough
    to say why it was more than naught.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Daniel, thank you very much for your poem. For me, Darwin’s theory certainly isn’t enough. I had doubts as a child and now I’m certain… certain he was wrong. I had plenty of questions as a kid. Since then, I think DNA has provided plenty of answers. Anyone in IT knows that code doesn’t write itself.

      • Daniel Kemper

        Yeah. The point my not very good blurb was trying to get at, “Darwin’s Doubt” is that if our brains made of/from random chance, then any supposed theory from it was also just random, so the theory eats itself.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        I love your train of thought, Daniel… I always do.

  14. Gail

    Okay, Susan, did you hear about the Galapagos tortoise, thought to be extinct a hundred years, that has just been found? She’s about 100 years old. There’s something to that, don’t you think?

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      That’s great news, Gail. To me, it proves two things. Firstly, that the ‘experts’ devoting their careers to the serious matter of extinction, are often wrong. It reminds me of the Beverly herd of caribou in Nunavut, declared extinct, (276,000 of them), only to be found alive and well a few years later at an alternate calving ground. Secondly, why hasn’t the turtle evolved into a blue-footed booby?! According to Darwin, animals can evolve into different species… perhaps all those animals thought extinct are identifying as other animals, or indeed, people. I think the cashier at our local Walmart checkout used to be a rockhopper penguin.

  15. Julian D. Woodruff

    A wonderfully sly poem, Susan. And I love the conversation in verse it has inspired.
    My takes on the event, the poem, and the comments:

    What Price Theory?
    (A Neanderthalish Quatrain)

    We note it’s not their legs, but arms
    That move some apes through jungle trees
    (And not across their fruitful farms
    they’ve cultivated), if you please.

    On that note:
    Arms, But Not Man
    Huge arms extended hold aloft a fish,
    which wriggles from their grasp & lands kersplash
    In water deeper than those arms might wish,,
    Then waves goodbye and swims off in a flash.

    On the other hand:
    Niwardian Re-volution
    Methinks I spy a human lower half,
    Collapsing (maybe with a sorry laugh)
    Leaving two legs still standing in the sea
    While all the rest sinks precipitously,
    Resuming then the form it had before:
    A finny fish close to the ocean floor.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, what huge fun! Devolution could well be the destiny for these stumpy, stony legs. I’ve also met a few fishy people of late… they had an air of the ocean about them… I think one of them was called Cliff. Things are getting a little spooky around here.

      Thank you very much for my afternoon smile. 🙂

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        I had thought of calling the 3rd “Niwradian Devolution” before changing the title.
        (My 1st girlfriend married a guy whose surname was Cliff. She called him Dweller.)

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        “Cliff Dweller” – so funny!

        I think the thread of comments (including some very fine poetry) have gone and outdone my poem. In fact, I think my poem pales in comparison… it may not be the fittest specimen on the page – a Darwinian curse, methinks.

  16. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, Fawlty Towers is back on TV over here bigtime, but whatever you do…don’t talk about the war!!!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, that’s hilarious. I must see if I can get Mike tuned in to it. He’s already familiar with Hyacinth Bucket, Del Boy and Rodney, and the Vicar of Dibley… he needs to add Basil to his list.

  17. C.B. Anderson

    Right here to my left, Susan, as I write this, are several well-written books about counter-Darwinian theory. This has been my wheelhouse for several decades. Ah, but the subtleties are immense. I wish I could provide a syllabus right now, but my deliberate self-incapacitation prevents that. Michael Behe and Michael Denton are both great resources when it comes to exploring this subject. Richard Dawkins is little more than a pseudo-intellectual dink.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., counter Darwinian theory intrigues me – it always has, though, I can’t claim to have read extensively on the matter. I will admit to reading a third of ‘The God Delusion’ and coming to the conclusion that Richard Dawkins was most certainly a ‘pseudo-intellectual dink’. When he used a teapot analogy to get his point across about God, that was it for me. Thank you for pointing me in the direction of Behe and Denton. Deliberate self-incapacitation and a genuinely informative and researched book on this fascinating subject sounds like my ideal evening… I must be getting old and cynical… oops, I meant mature and sensible. lol

      • Jeff Eardley

        Susan, Richard Dawkins recently had a Christmas book for children published….”The Santa Delusion” worth checking out!

  18. James Sale

    Very funny Susan – and your concluding couplet is magisterial, especially the use of that internal rhyme word, ‘wink’ – a nod and a wink, a very English expression and here it says it all. Know what I mean? Well done.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Nudge, nudge, wink, wink; say no more… thank you for my morning smile, James! 🙂 I’m glad you like the poem.

  19. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Writing this poem and reading the comments beneath have set me on the path of irreducible complexity. This answers an awful lot of questions. If you’re interested in Natural Selection versus Intelligent Design (and by ID, I don’t mean Creationism) this film is well worth viewing.

  20. Tan Pratonix

    A brilliant poem. Quite flawless. Love the satire, the humour, the sardonic wit! I never ever believed in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
    This ought to be taught in schools.
    It’s so good!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Tan. I am thrilled you like the poem and I’m all for our children getting an education that teaches them how to think and not what to think, and that means offering them a plethora of viewpoints, not just one. I would love my poem to be a milestone on the road to independent thought.


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