Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Song on the End of the World

Mark Danner has a commencement address he delivered this May on his website. He deals with many of the topics I discuss on my blog such as torture, mass murder, and the lack of accountability in America today. But he also has a little inspirational poem at the end.

A SONG ON THE END OF THE WORLD
[by Czeslaw 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:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

"There will be no other end of the world." I should add that there are two words at the end of the poem, a place and a date. Czeslaw wrote that poem in Warsaw in 1944.
I can only imagine how those young English graduates felt after sitting through Professor Danner's speech. If it wasn't clear to them before, I think the speech serves to illustrate that this is our world and we are responsible for it. Responsible for the torture committed in our names. Go read the whole thing if you've time.

1 comment:

Mun Mun said...

Thanks for sharing this poem.