A Song on the End of the World

By Czeslaw Milosz 1911–2004 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:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Warsaw, 1944

Czeslaw Milosz, "A Song on the End of the World" from The Collected Poems; 1931-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Czeslaw Milosz Royalities, Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems: 1931-1987 (The Ecco Press, 1988)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Czeslaw Milosz 1911–2004

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Religion, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Faith & Doubt

Poetic Terms Imagery, Refrain, Mixed

 Czeslaw  Milosz

Biography

Czeslaw Milosz ranks among the most respected figures in twentieth-century Polish literature, as well as one of the most respected contemporary poets in the world: he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. Born in Lithuania, where his parents moved temporarily to escape the political upheaval in their native Poland, as an adult, he left Poland due to the oppressive Communist regime that came to power following World . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Faith & Doubt

POET’S REGION Poland

Poetic Terms Imagery, Refrain, Mixed

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.