The End of the 19th Century

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The End of the 19th Century (1901)
by Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, translated by Jarek Zawadzki
Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer1500066The End of the 19th Century1901Jarek Zawadzki

A curse?… But only savages in pain
abuse their god that’s hiding in the air.
An irony?… but how can you compare
most dreadful scorns with every day’s disdain?

Contempt?… but only fools despise the weight
that is too heavy for their feeble arms.
Despair?… so hearing danger’s grim alarms
just like a scorpion we end our fate?

Struggle?… but how an ant succeed in strife
when thrust upon a rail before the train?
Resignation?… but can there be less pain
when we acquiesce to the butcher’s knife?

The future life?… The stars who can explore,
and who can guess the ending of the world?
Joy?… but at the bottom of our souls lie furled,
those thoughts that mid enjoyment cry for more.

So what is left? In all the faiths of yore
we find no comfort. Things for us are clear.
What is your shield against the evil’s spear,
man of the fin-de-siècle?… He spoke no more.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1948, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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