Poles write the best poetry

You may remember my selection of a poem by Wisława Szymborska for Memorial Day several years ago. This is the poem I’m thinking of for Inauguration Day 2017, by Nobel Prize-winner Czesław Miłosz. Here’s it read in Polish, a spoken language full of beauty.

Here’s the English text:

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:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Warsaw, 1944


On our day on the end of the world: I have dad’s cold now (thanks, dad!) and took an extra, unsolicited nap today (no worries, I am not very sick). The kitchen needs badly to be cleaned but I am putting it off. I am drinking a prodigious amount of my favorite lemon zinger tea. We watch tv and the news is shocking. The freeze is melting, and our driveway is like a skating rink. The nieces are making pizzas for their band fundraiser this weekend and the basketball season has resumed. Dad is having some minor repairs done on his truck. The roof of my brother’s house is leaking slightly. Everything is normal. Alles geht seinen gewohnten Gang. Most of my friends are holding their breath, waiting.

~ by Servetus on January 20, 2017.

13 Responses to “Poles write the best poetry”

  1. A beautiful reading.
    Hope your cold doesn’t last too long.


  2. Alles geht seinen gewohnten Gang-some people might weep or have tears in their eyes(maybe their cats died the other day😉),some laugh about the absurdity of the situation that a man with a weasel on his head is elected for president ,people still go to theatre -we’re going to die and shouldn’t waste our lives… Have you all chosen something to dance to…
    Today I recommend The Cure-Plainsong-“And the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the world”Hopefully this is not the end of the world today,but it will surely have an influence on all of our lives within the following years.This wonderful “Song on the end of the world”by J.S. feels s.h. connected to Armitages 11.9.tweet to me.I know that it was not really liked by a lot of people,but the man hit my own feelings that morning with his words(and am not even a member of his fandom).
    Hopefully there will still be young men kissing innocent ladies on train
    Gute Besserung!!🤒


  3. 😦 Hey (((Serv)))
    My hubby says “he is not a king…he is just a president”


  4. That’s a good poem! I’m holding my breath with you.
    Hope you feel better soon!


  5. Beautiful, moving, spot on. If only these moments were so obvious that people would notice and maybe react.

    Get well soon.


  6. Get well soon! {{{Hugs}}}


  7. Wish you speedy recovery!


  8. Gute Besserung!!!!


  9. Holy crap! That’s one of the most beautiful, saddest, truthful poems I’ve ever read. Yet somehow, what’s happening in your home, with your family is so much sadder, and more moving in your depiction of normal life going on when there was nothing normal with what was happening that day. It was the end of the world as we know it.


  10. Thanks for all the positive wishes.


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