773. Verses from 1936, by Karel Capek

When this century collapses, dead at last,
and its sleep within the dark tomb has begun,
come, look down upon us, world, file past
and be ashamed of what our age has done.

Inscribe our stone, that everyone may see
what this dead era valued most and best:
science, progress, work, technology
and death—but death we prized above the rest.

We set new records, measuring men and deeds
in terms of greatness; thus we tempted fate.
In keeping with the greatness of our needs,
our heroes and our gangsters, too, were great.

The 20th century, buried; nonetheless,
world, see what eras yet to come will gain:
Great new records, great inventions. Wretchedness.
Dictators. War. A ruined town in Spain.

(translator unknown; the poem is quoted in a biography, and its actual title is also unknown)

Source: Karel Capek: Life and Work

774. More than Sixty, by Jack Gilbert

Out of money, so I'm sitting in the shade
of my farmhouse cleaning the lentils
I found in the back of the cupboard.
Listening to the cicada in the fig tree
mix with the cooing doves on the roof.
I look up when I hear a goat hurt far down
the valley and discover the sea
exactly the same blue I used to paint it
with my watercolors as a child.
So what, I think happily. So what!

Source: Collected Poems

775. The Condor, by Loren Eiseley

The great bird moves its feathers on the air
like fingers playing on an instrument,
the instrument of wind; it climbs and scarcely moves
                                while steady thermals push
                                its giant wings still higher till it soars
beyond my sight completely, though it peers
               through strange red eyes
               upon my face below.
Its kind is dying from the earth; its wings
               create a foolish envy among men.
Its shadow knew the mammoth and he passed,
               floated above the sabertooth, now gone,
               saw the first spearmen on the bison's track,
               banked sharply, went its way alone.
Its eyes are larger than its searching brain;
               the creature sees like a satellite,
               but exists within
               an ice-world now dead. This bird cannot
               understand rifles, multiply its eggs,
               one hidden on a cliff face all it has.
Its shadow is now passing from the earth
               just as the mammoth's shadow at high noon.
Something has gone with each of them, the sky
               is out of balance with the tipping poles.
               No huge, tusked beast is marching with the ice,
no aerial shadow tracks the passing years.
               Only below the haze grows deeper still,
               only the buildings edge up through the murk.
Planes fly, and sometimes crash, but no black wing will write
               the end of man, as man's end should be written
               by all the condor wings beneath high heaven.

Source: The Innocent Assassins: Poems