by Czeslaw Milosz
I walk those corridors by torchlight
Hearing water trickle down onto broken slabs.
Deep into the mountain. In niches, busts of my friends,
Their eyes are of marble. Only the light and shadow
Throw over their faces a brief sour grimace of life.
So, farther into the labyrinth leading to the dark interior,
Where there are no kobolds, only the echo of my steps,
Until the torch gutters out, and on the unknown bend
Where it is fated, I will turn to stone.
But at the entrance, blocked by a landslide and soon forgotten,
In a fir forest by a stream falling from a glacier,
A doe will give birth to her freckled fawn and the air
Will unfurl intricate leafy spirals to other eyes, as once to mine.
And every joy of morning will be discovered again,
Each savouring of an apple picked in the tall orchard.
So I can leave peacefully everything I loved.
The earth will carry aqueducts, amphoras, brass chandeliers.
And when some day dogs chasing a bear
Burst into a crevasse and people of far-off generations
Decipher our angular letters on the walls—
They will be amazed that we knew so many of their own joys,
Though our futile palace has come to mean so little.