Poem: A Song On the End of the World

Recently, I thought about how our culture got into the mess we are in. I looked at competition as a cause. The kind of competition that doesn’t demand the best of us as individuals, but demands winning at any cost. And I began to wonder if part of that drive was the inability to be quiet, to be alone with ourselves. And, then, as if by magic, I came across this poem.

When you read about the poet’s life—what he must have seen and experienced—and then read this poem, it gives you a good point to start thinking about what is important as we go through life.

A Song On the End of the World
by Czeslaw Milosz
Translated by Anthony Milosz
* * *
On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.

* * *
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. She has started to read poetry again, and is finding stillness there.

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4 thoughts on “Poem: A Song On the End of the World

  1. It says a lot in very simple words, but definitely is a thinking poem. I like it. I love the image of the old man binding his tomatoes.

    And he did have a complicated life, it must have been so difficult to wend through all the different politics and governments, all so rapidly changing.

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