Tuesday, January 5, 2010
an error in the calculation
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 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
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.
translated by Anthony Milosz
I read this lovely, thought provoking poem, posted by Relyn and
thought it so apropos for the new year. Not only thoughts about
seizing the day and living life to its fullest, but being good stewards
of the earth, as well.
It also brought to mind the rather humorous story of my fourth
great-grandfather, Rev. Robert Goodloe Harper Hanna. "Harper"
was one of the earliest ministers in Carroll County, Indiana. He
belonged to a denomination known as the Primitive Methodists and
preached the Millerite doctrine. If he believed this radical doctrine,
personally, he certainly failed to impress the outside world with his
Here's the account, according to the History of Carroll County,
Indiana by Thomas Helms, Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1882.
One morning in April, 1848, John Payton rode by Hanna's farm
and saw him setting out an orchard. The inconsistency of his
preceding at once struck Payton, who elected that a number of
years must elapse, in any event, before he could expect any
return of his labor, and if the final destruction of the world were
so nearly at hand, was not his an unnecessary outlay of labor?
With this in mind, Payton addressed him:
"How is this, Brother Hanna? This is April, and if your
account is correct, the end of the world will come in
June next. It scarcely looks consistent to be doing
such work so nearly the borders of eternity."
"Oh well", replied Hanna, "we can't tell exactly; there
may have been an error in the calculation."
photo from The Library of Congress