Monday, October 26, 2009

A Song On the End of the World

Friday in class students read the Milosz poem below, annotated the poem looking for lines that show imagery, tone, mood and irony. Students also gave each stanza a title to try to get at the main message of the poem. After discussing the poem, students individually answered the following closing questions on the back of their poem.

What is Milosz message to us about the end of the world?
What would McCarthy say to Milosz about the end of the world?
Which one has it right? Why do you say this?

To watch a visual retelling of the poem that concentrates on images, click here.

To see a video of the poem being read over some haunting images, click here.

A Song On the End of the World
by Czeslaw Milosz
Warsaw, 1944

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.

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