A Song on the End of the World

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 end of the lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
A 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 of archangels’
trumpets
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.

–Warsaw, 1944
Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Anthony Milosz

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