poet Archibald MacLeish

Archibald MacLeish

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The End Of The World

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb
Quite unexpectedly to top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing -- nothing at all.

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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Comments about The End Of The World by Archibald MacLeish

  • JB Mulvey (5/7/2018 1:43:00 AM)

    A deceptively simple sonnet about the absurdity and futility of life lived with no hope of anything to come after it except the complete oblivion of death.

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  • Robert Graber (3/27/2018 4:13:00 PM)

    Line 8 should should say the top instead of to top. Thanks!

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  • Ernest Davis (7/8/2017 12:37:00 PM)

    In line 8, to top blew off should be the top blew off

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  • David Staudacher (9/29/2016 6:40:00 PM)

    http: //www.loc.gov/item/95770413 - Here. Press Play. Poem starts at about 20: 05

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  • Valerie DohrenValerie Dohren (12/17/2013 5:47:00 AM)

    Regardless of the typo, I love this - especially the second stanza. Cancelled skies - brilliant.

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  • alan barlow (12/22/2011 6:04:00 AM)

    Two years later, the same poem has the same typo:

    'Quite unexpectedly to top blew off: '

    should be:

    'Quite unexpectedly the top blew off: '

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    10 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • alan barlow (9/13/2009 6:01:00 AM)

    The last line of the first verse should read
    '...the top blew off.'

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    7 person liked.
    6 person did not like.



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Read poems about / on: dark, time, world, sky