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

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