Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poetry Mix Tape: Poems on The End of the World

I like a little music in the morning on the way to work. But it has to be a certain kind of music. Nothing light. Nothing sappy. In the morning, I like my music up-tempo. And I like to play it loud. Is it weird to admit that I use music to pump me up some mornings as I drive to work? Too late now to take it back, I suppose. (I'll leave off the confession that I also like to sing along. At the top of my lungs.)

One song I often turn to for a little waking up is called "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox 20. It's up-tempo. It's loud. It's singable. And it's about the end of the world.

Where exactly am I going with this? Well there seems to be a small sub-genre of poetry that I enjoy--poems about the end of the world. Not sure why I enjoy these poems. I'm sure a psycho-analyst would have a field day with that one. But that's not why I'm here. I'm here to share some good "End of the World" poems with you. Now, I have to admit, there aren't many that I can find, but here are the ones I enjoy.

My favorite has to be this one, by Stanley Kunitz...


Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there’d be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground’s edge
proclaiming he was sent by God
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
“Repent, ye sinners!” he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the last meal I’d share
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.

Read the rest of this poem here. As with so many end of the world poems, it's the ending that seals it.

Even though there aren't a ton of this type of poem out there, here are some more you might enjoy...well maybe poems about the end of the world aren't "enjoyable" per se, but you know what I mean:

Maybe there are some more out there that I'm missing. Please let me know. And enjoy the mix.


  1. Cairo, Libya, Wisconsin, Christchurch, Indiana, Tucson, Wikileaks. I have been harboring an uncharacteristic and disturbing sense (for a die-hard optimist) that Now is the end of the world as we know it. The internet changes everything for almost all of us. The world my children will inhabit as young adults will run differently. Thanks for these. Will they comfort?

  2. If there's one thing I have to believe will never change it's that poetry will always comfort.

    Thanks for the comment.