The World’s End

By William Empson

“Fly with me then to all’s and the world’s end
And plumb for safety down the gaps of stars;

Let the last gulf or topless cliff befriend,

What tyrant there our variance debars?”

Alas, how hope for freedom, no bars bind;

Space is like earth, rounded, a padded cell;

Plumb the stars depth, your lead bumps you behind;
Blind Satan’s voice rattled the whole of Hell

On cushioned air what is such metal worth
To pierce to the gulf that lies so snugly curled?

Each tangent plain touches one top of earth,

Each point in one direction ends the world.

Apple of knowledge and forgetful mere
From Tantalus too differential bend.‘

The shadow clings. The world’s end is here.

This place’s curvature precludes its end.

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